The Memory Artists
By (author) Jeffrey Moore
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Memory Artists by Jeffrey Moore
Book DescriptionNoel Burun has hypermnesia and synaesthesia: his memory is unrelentingly exact and when people speak he sees their words as vibrant explosions of colour, often leaving him befuddled and bewildered. His mother Stella, on the other hand, is slowly sinking into the quicksand of Alzheimer's. A man who remembers too much, and a woman who remembers too little -- both struggle to make sense of their worlds in a house bloated with memories. Norval is Noel's double: a one-time novelist and full-time Lothario whose memory is tainted by an unfinished love story. He, along with Samira, who is trying to escape a former identity, and JJ-who is trapped by nostalgia for his childhood -- all have a role to play in Noel's sometimes heartbreaking, and often hilarious, quest to find a cure for his mother's condition. THE MEMORY ARTISTS is the outstanding, hilarious second novel from a writer whose work is so "full of quirks and quick-turns, wit and erudition" (The Guardian) that readers will find it impossible to put down.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780297607984
(242mm x 170mm x 35mm)
Imprint: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publish Date: 12-Aug-2004
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
UK Kirkus Review » Fans of Jeffrey Moore's first novel, the award-winning Red-Rose Chain, will know he is an author of supreme intelligence, unafraid to take risks, and demanding a huge amount of commitment and understanding from his readers. The Memory Artists only serves to enhance Moore's reputation as he delves into the mysteries of the mind in this fascinating study of memory, and how the ability to remember too much can be as damaging as not being able to recall very much at all. Noel Burun is a synaesthete; he hears words in colour, he is often bombarded with overwhelming sensations and becomes confused by the intensity of his reactions to people round him. He also has a remarkable memory (hypernesia); he is able to recall pages of poetry and strings of numbers, but more distressingly he is unable to suppress unwelcome memories. The day of his father's suicide is as vivid years later as the day it happened. His mother, Stella, is in the grip of Alzheimer's; every day she becomes more confused and disconnected, repeatedly packing her case to catch a mythical train, frightened of change and totally reliant on her brilliant son. Into this world of conflicting memories come Norval, a Casanova working his way through his personal sexual alphabet, but suffering the loss of the one woman he really loved; Samira, an ex-actress who has re-invented herself but is in thrall to Norval's magnetism and JJ, a perpetual adolescent caught up in his own memories, but full of a boyish enthusiasm to try anything to give Stella back her past. The Memory Artists is a challenging, exciting book, bristling with scientific and literary references from Richard Feynman to Charles Baudelaire by way of Nietzsche and Rossetti. Funny, yet moving, Moore's inspired novel cannot fail to make an impact on all who read it. (Kirkus UK)
US Kirkus Review » Memory can be as much a curse as it is a blessing. Representing a quantum leap forward from his workmanlike Prisoner in a Red-Rose Chain (2002), Canadian author Moore here turns in a lovely Quebecois opus about people trapped by their memories, or lack thereof. Noel Burun is a hypermnesiac synesthete, meaning he sees words in colors. He also has a near-photographic memory for practically everything he's experienced since birth; his recall would impress Proust. And like Proust, Noel is lost in the loops of his nostalgia-a single word can send him on an interior rollercoaster of sensory overload: "Noel needed to absorb a person's voice, experience the distinct colours and shapes, before he could decipher the words themselves." But Moore isn't content to simply trap readers in Noel's funhouse mind. His book-recipient of the 2005 Canadian Authors Association Award for Best Novel-is written as faux reportage, the work of a "professional writer-translator" assigned by the legendary Dr. Vorta to compile the story of Noel (whom Vorta has been studying for years), as well as that of Noel's Alzheimer's-afflicted mother and three others. The first is Noel's complete opposite (and best friend) Norval Xavier Blaquiere, a devastatingly handsome Byronic French aesthete in the midst of a performance-art piece that requires him to screw his way through the alphabet. A potential target for his "S" conquest is Samira Darwish, beautiful, Persian and sort of lost, sublimating her bad-boy attraction to Norval by befriending Noel. Somewhere on the margins is JJ, an overgrown man-boy with a yen for inventions. Through a series of tricky plot devices that would be called cliche if they weren't so enjoyable, all three end up living with Noel. Moore expends most of his energy on the inner life of the fascinating, dour Noel, but he also has fun with the book's form, as evidenced in his occasionally humorous use of footnotes. A kaleidoscopic melodrama that earns points for its high-art stylistics, yet still works all the emotions. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Jeffrey Moore
Born in Montreal, Jeffrey Moore was educated at the University of Toronto and the Sorbonne. He works as a translator and also lectures at the University of Montreal and Concordia University.
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