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chesilbeach

Man Walks Into A Room by Nicole Krauss

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The police find a man wandering in the Nevada desert. Checking the name on the ID in his wallet, they find out he is Samson Greene, a professor at Columbia University who has been missing for eight days. He has no memory of who he is or how he got there, and at the hospital, is diagnosed with a brain tumour. The tumour is removed but leaves gaps in his memory, in fact, he can remember nothing of his life after the age of twelve. Astonishingly though, he can create new memories, and so has to rebuild his memories by learning who he is from those people who know him.


He returns to his home in New York with his wife, and you see the strain on a relationship he has no memory of. Imagine going from the thoughts of being a twelve year old to being a man in your mid thirties with no recollection of your education, your career, your friends, and even the woman you share your bed with. What was fascinating was how as a reader, just like Samson himself, you had no knowledge of who he was as a man, and as he attempts to fill in the missing years of memories, you and he find out not only what has happened to him in the intervening years, but what sort of man he had become.

It's not without flaws, and there is a scientific experiment relating to memory towards the end of the book, which while it was convincing and believable within the confines of the story, it felt a little bit too fantastical for me. However, it does work brilliantly within the story, and forces Samson into action to move on with his life in the present.

There is also a fascinating epilogue - obviously I don't want to give anything away about it, but it did leave me questioning the conclusions I'd made by that point, and the idea of identity itself.

 

I posted this review in my reading blog, but I'm still thinking about this book a few days after finishing it, and wanted to put the review in the fiction section so it didn't get overlooked on my own thread.

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