Fourth Estate £7.99
Memory Wall, By Anthony Doerr
The memory of all that...
Sunday 08 January 2012
"You have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realize that memory is what makes our lives." Luis Buñuel's words make for a fitting epigraph to Anthony Doerr's brilliant collection of stories, which explores both the power and the fragility of memory.
Memory is figured as a persistent, even oppressive force: in "Afterworld", a Holocaust survivor is overcome by visions of lost friends; in "The Demilitarized Zone", a middle-aged cuckold is unable to forget his wife's betrayal.
Memory is also shown to be a "pale, perishable thing": in "Village 113", a town disappears beneath the churning Yangtze waters; in "The River Nemunas", an orphaned teenager struggles to recall details of her childhood. The title story concerns an elderly South African woman with dementia; here, Doerr chillingly describes the mental "corrosion" that accompanies the disease, the "cruel erasure" of self that it threatens.
But there are lighter moments. Like Proust, Doerr understands that reminiscences are prompted by the most mundane of things. He lovingly itemises the contents of his characters' homes – their "empty tobacco pouches", their "spatulas and salad forks", their "warped baking sheets and half-used shampoo bottles" – and he describes how each object carries personal significance. In doing so, he shows us that memory can transform the terrain of everyday life into something rich, charged, magical.
TV reviewBroadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair
Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere
TVThe Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 3 The confessions of men who ordered mail-order brides
- 4 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
- 5 Yazidi sex slaves undergoing surgery to 'restore virginity' after being raped by Isis militants
Fast & Furious 7 overtakes Frozen to become 5th highest grossing movie of all time
Poldark finale review: How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest
The Visit: Watch terrifying trailer for M Night Shyamalan's latest horror film
Apprentice series 11: Claude Littner to replace Nick Hewer as Lord Sugar's aide
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 3 - review: Sansa and manhood-lopping torturer Ramsay Bolton, really?
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds