The Story of Forgetting
Stefan Merrill Block
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". . . a believable tale that is at once complex and basic. . ."
A fascinating history of familial Alzheimer’s.
Abel Haggard is in love with Mae, his brother’s wife, but he knows she would never look twice at a hunchback. As Abel watches his brother and Mae in their bedroom at night, hoping to fall out of love with her when he sees her making love to another, Mae surprises him by following him up into the tree and showing him how wrong he is.
Seth Waller hides in plain sight, “the Master of Nothingness”, anguished over the loss of his mother, Jamie, as she moves farther and farther from him, sinking into the morass of forgetfulness. Seth wants to understand how to help his mother and decides to put the pieces of her life together and reunite his mother with her past with a map to Isidora as his only clue.
Isidora is a magical land where people communicate by touch and no one remembers – or needs to remember.
Intertwining three stories and the history of one type of familial Alzheimer’s, Stefan Merrill Block attempts the formidable task of creating a believable tale that is at once complex and basic in its simplicity. In The Story of Forgetting, he succeeds admirably. Block has a true feeling for the characters, creating real and fantasy worlds with a sense of magic detailed in clean and uncluttered prose.
From the first moment when Abel Haggard, the poor hunchback speaks of his forbidden love for Mae, I was captivated. The fantasy of Isidora and Seth Waller’s clear, young voice added layers that continued to draw me into a small corner of the world where far flung family members come together in the limbo around those stricken with Alzheimer’s. Block deals with the reality of Alzheimer’s in a new way that imparts a feeling of magic and uncovers the quixotic hand of destiny in the ordered chaos of genetic and personal history. Although the strain of familial Alzheimer’s Block traces is fiction, his descriptions of the disease and its effect on the families enmeshed in its tangled strands are true to life. I only wish Isidora was as real as the lives Block limns with such care and understanding in The Story of Forgetting and there was a place where forgetting was a blessing instead of a curse.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell