Monday, August 10, 2009

Book Review - The Story of Forgetting

Stefan Merrill Block has written a masterpiece! Given the fact that this is his is first novel, coupled with his youth (he's 27), I am astounded at the maturity and quality of his work.

The Story of Forgetting is a story of Alzheimer's disease told from two different places by two very different characters. One, an old worn out humpbacked bachelor, the other a teenaged nerd. Both deal with loved ones with Alzheimer's. Both deal with loneliness. Both deal with obsession.

The story is interwoven with a metaphorical third element about the mythical land of Isidora. We hear from Seth. We hear from Abel. We learn of Isidora. And in the end they three, merge into a magnificent view of tragedy, triumph, meaning and understanding.

While a bit crude in a few places, this story is wonderful. Wonderful in it's ordinary, so-much-like-me characters. Wonderful in it's so-much-like-mine experience. It could be me. It may yet. It is that real, that poignant.

Alzheimer's is a terrible disease which takes a awful toll on victims and families alike. This is clearly portrayed. Yet I'd be loathe to characterize Block's work as either dreary or dreadful. It is thoughtful, hopeful and most magnificent! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

I had a neighbor with Alzheimer's. Shortly after my retirement, I was blessed with the opportunity to assist his dear wife with his care, on many occasions. I wish I had read this book before I had that experience because Block has given a quality of transcendence to what appeared, from the outside to be a long, numbing ordeal. His wife clearly didn't see it that way, which inspired me. But then, see, I was merely inspired by her and her courageous fight. The Story of Forgetting, would have showed me how to see majesty in the meaning of their relationship. It would have shown me the clarity of contrast and the preciousness of memory. Had I read it back then, I might have understood why I saw triumph where I expected to have seen despair.

1 comment:

Booklogged said...

Beautiful review. You said everything I felt and didn't quite know how to put it in words. So glad you liked it. I always feel a bit of anxiety when I suggest a book to someone, especially when it is a bit novel in its approach.

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