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The Story of Forgetting

by Stefan Merrill Block

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59511929,784 (3.76)53
Abel Haggard is an elderly hunchback who haunts the remnants of his family's farm in the encroaching shadow of the Dallas suburbs, adrift in recollections of those he loved and lost long ago. As a young man, he believed himself to be "the one person too many"; now he is all that remains. Hundreds of miles to the south, in Austin, Seth Waller is a teenage "Master of Nothingness"-a prime specimen of that gangly, pimple-rashed, too-smart breed of adolescent that vanishes in a puff of sarcasm at the slightest threat of human contact. When his mother is diagnosed with a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer's, Seth sets out on a quest to find her lost relatives and to conduct an "empirical investigation" that will uncover the truth of her genetic history. Though neither knows of the other's existence, Abel and Seth are linked by a dual legacy: the disease that destroys the memories of those they love, and the story of Isidora-an edenic fantasy world free from the sorrows of remembrance, a land without memory where nothing is ever possessed, so nothing can be lost.Through the fusion of myth, science, and storytelling, this novel offers a dazzling illumination of the hard-learned truth that only through the loss of what we consider precious can we understand the value of what remains.… (more)
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English (117)  Italian (2)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (121)
Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
This book is poorly structured but it contains a truly moving and fascinating story where early-onset Alzheimer's is explored using elements of science, history, and fable. ( )
  bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
dalla prime pagine, leggendo, ho avuto come la sensazione di venire piano piano avvolta da una nebbia... poetica... malinconica... ma di quella malinconia un po' disperata.
mi son detta "eccolo qua! ..un libro di quelli che possono straziarti l'anima"
poi in realtà si tratta di due storie (più un intermezzo fantastico) che si intrecciano pian piano...
si riflette spesso, e su tante cose... ma in special modo a colpire è il modo di convivere, affrontare e accettare la malattia... che diventa un mondo fantastico, dorato e bellissimo!
“Un luogo privo di pensieri e perfetto. Un luogo libero dal passato e dal futuro. Un luogo in cui niente veniva ricordato, e così niente poteva essere perduto. Un luogo dove qualsiasi cosa di cui avesse bisogno doveva soltanto immaginarla.”

semplicemente bello.

p.s.: ...e comunque la prima pagina mi sono messa lì, piano piano, di pazienza, e l'ho trascritta nelle note... così che vi potete rendere conto.
un po', almeno... visto che il bello bello arriva poi.
ma si faceva troppo lunga... e io mica sono la vostra segretaria!
:P ( )
  cry6379 | Sep 17, 2017 |
Some books are easy: they engage your head with strong characters and/or good storytelling, but somehow miss connecting with your heart. That's not necessarily a bad thing--I'm wholly in favor of reading for the sheer fun of it, and every book isn't going to connect with every reader.

But some books...some books are hard. They hit you in the gut, and once they have you, they don't let go. You can still get the strong characters and the good storytelling, but this time they're wedded to a plot or situation that grabs you by the heart and squeezes till you can hardly breathe. The experience isn't always enjoyable, but when it's all over, it feels right, somehow. Necessary.

The Story of Forgetting is about a family devastated by a genetic variant of early onset Alzheimers. We spend our time alternating between Abel, a hunchback who lives with his twin brother Paul and Paul's wife May in the 40s, and Seth, a modern day teenager whose mother is suffering from the disease. The connection between these two threads is a family story of the golden city of Isadora, where there is no sorrow because there is no memory.

Maybe it hit me so hard because, like most people passing 40, Alzheimers is the biggest Boogeyman in my personal Anxiety Closet. Diseases of the body are bad, no doubt. But in most cases they can be fought, and even if they can't, you don't lose who you are in the process. You will be changed, certainly, but not lost. With Alzheimers, you can lose everything: friends, family, security. Worse, your shell is still around, but none of the people who care about you can connect with you.

Maybe it hit me so hard because I was thinking about my own mother, who passed away a few years ago. Her problems were physical, to start with, but soon her mind began to go, too. We were luckier than many--she lost track of time, but she still recognized us till right at the end. Still, her confusion was heartbreaking.

So yeah, this book was difficult for me. But having gone through it and come out the other side, I feel a little bit better about it all. Don't get me wrong--there are no easy answers. But sometimes, it's enough to spend some time with someone who understands. ( )
  Mrs_McGreevy | Nov 17, 2016 |
(33) This was pretty good. A story about familial early onset Alzheimer's disease, in which the theoretical origins of the genetic mutation are traced back through time. A path is drawn between an adolescent boy, Seth, who is grappling with his young mother's new diagnosis and an old, seemingly unrelated hunchbacked hermit who relates the tale of forbidden love and how he lost everything dear to him and ended up alone. Weaved throughout is a fable about the land of Isadora, where all of the inhabitants are blissfully happy yet have no memory. These are tales passed down orally in the affected generations.

Overall, there is a bit much going on and so at times felt contrived. Some things felt a bit unrelated such as Seth's weird interactions with members of the opposite sex, but in the main, fairly well-written and engaging. I am not convinced however that Alzheimer's patients are in their own Isidora, thus happy. I liked the genetic allegory. I liked the stories told by Seth's interview subjects regarding the beginning of their affliction and their coping strategies. As someone who had a grandmother with this condition, I found it very thought provoking and of course a bit foreboding.

So this is an entertaining, fairly light but worthwhile read. It is reminiscent of Lisa Genova's novels about families affected by real neurological diseases, with 'Still Alice' being the most well-known. Recommened for her fans. I would give his author another try. ( )
  jhowell | Aug 20, 2016 |
Although at times the author intruded with writing that trumpeted how clever he was, the story itself was very pleasurable and unique. The structural elements themselves were interesting to watch unfold (chapters alternate between the two protagonists' points of view and information about the fabled world). In the end, although somewhat predictable, the story is uplifting. I enjoyed this book and will look for more by this author, hoping he will have solved those "writerly" issues while working on his second novel. ( )
  Laine-Cunningham | Oct 16, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
Mr. Block has found an unusually roundabout, fanciful way of telling the story of one family’s genetic destiny. And “The Story of Forgetting” does not confine its eccentricity to the distant past. Nothing about Mr. Block’s narrative is predictable or even suitably bleak, given the nature of the illness he addresses. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, made grimmer by the new scientific certitude of genetic testing, is at the heart of this emotional roller coaster of a novel.
 
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I never found a way to fill all the silence.
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Abel Haggard is an elderly hunchback who haunts the remnants of his family's farm in the encroaching shadow of the Dallas suburbs, adrift in recollections of those he loved and lost long ago. As a young man, he believed himself to be "the one person too many"; now he is all that remains. Hundreds of miles to the south, in Austin, Seth Waller is a teenage "Master of Nothingness"-a prime specimen of that gangly, pimple-rashed, too-smart breed of adolescent that vanishes in a puff of sarcasm at the slightest threat of human contact. When his mother is diagnosed with a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer's, Seth sets out on a quest to find her lost relatives and to conduct an "empirical investigation" that will uncover the truth of her genetic history. Though neither knows of the other's existence, Abel and Seth are linked by a dual legacy: the disease that destroys the memories of those they love, and the story of Isidora-an edenic fantasy world free from the sorrows of remembrance, a land without memory where nothing is ever possessed, so nothing can be lost.Through the fusion of myth, science, and storytelling, this novel offers a dazzling illumination of the hard-learned truth that only through the loss of what we consider precious can we understand the value of what remains.

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Abel Haggard is an elderly hunchback who haunts the remnants of his family's farm in the encroaching shadow of the Dallas suburbs, adrift in recollections of those he loved and lost long ago. Hundreds of miles to the south, in Austin, Seth Waller is a teenage "Master of Nothingness" - a prime specimen of that gangly breed of adolescent that vanishes in a puff of sarcasm at the slightest threat of human contact. When his mother is diagnosed with a rare disease, Seth sets out on a quest to find her lost relatives and uncover the truth of her genetic history. Though neither knows of the other's existence, Abel and Seth are linked by a dual legacy: the disease that destroys the memories of those they love, and the story of Isidora-a land without memory where nothing is ever possessed, so nothing can be lost. (978-0-8129-7982-4)
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