Monday, February 7, 2011

Memoir Monday... The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok

My first impression of The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok was "here we go again". Another memoir about living with a schizophrenic mother, etc., etc. But then the reviews started coming in fast and furious about this book. Hmmm, maybe I need take another closer look at this one... Here's what Publisher's Weekly wrote about The Memory Palace:
"This moving, compassionately candid memoir by artist and children's book author Bartok describes a life dominated by her gifted but schizophrenic mother. Bartók and her sister, Rachel, both of whom grew up in Cleveland, are abandoned by their novelist father and go to live with their mother at their maternal grandparents home. By 1990, a confrontation in which her mother cuts her with broken glass leads Bartók (née Myra Herr) to change her identity and flee the woman she calls the cry of madness in the dark. Eventually, the estrangement leaves her mother homeless, wandering with her belongings in a knapsack, writing letters to her daughter's post office box. Reunited 17 years later, Bartók is suffering memory loss from an accident; her mother is 80 years old and dying from stomach cancer. Only through memories do they each find solace for their collective journey. Using a mnemonic technique from the Renaissance—a memory palace—Bartók imagines, chapter by chapter, a mansion whose rooms secure the treasured moments of her reconstructed past. With a key found stashed in her mother's knapsack, she unlocks a rental storage room filled with paintings, diaries, and photos. Bartók turns these strangely parallel narratives and overlapping wonders into a haunting, almost patchwork, narrative that lyrically chronicles a complex mother-daughter relationship.
This sounds fascinating to me. Like a treasure chest of memories, Bartok constructs her memoir around these objects. And glancing through excerpts of Mira Bartok's book, I found some beautiful artwork along with her compelling prose. So, The Memory Palace is now on my wish list! Have you read this one yet?! Share your thoughts if you have, I'd love to hear what you thought of this!

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