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Thomas De Quincey wrote, "...All-powerful memory is able to exhume any impression, no matter how momentary it might have been, if given sufficient stimulus." But just how much stimulus is necessary to recoup three years of lost memory? And how accurate will those memories be as they are restored piece by piece, clue by clue? When all is said and done, what will it mean to the identity of James Purdew? Is he really willing to face what he thinks he seeks in this blank period of his so far meaningless life?
By his own description, this wandering, lost soul named James Purdew is looking back on his life as a "self-destructive party animal, the boring, self-righteous sub-editor, the depressed English supporter" and more in order to fill an existentialist gaping hole in his life that swings him toward alternating feelings of intense, almost maniac happiness and sadness. Breaking up with the love of his life, Ingrid, he is determined finally to return to the city of H in England to see if there is a past link that connects to the briefest of flashback memories terrorizing his psyche.
Memoirs of an Amnesiac is a text James finds that leads him to write his own memoirs - backward - in an effort to stimulate his search. Hired by an anonymous employer to restore an old house on the familiar Lough Street, who might or might not be a former acquaintance, James finds an account entitled Confessions of a Killer as well as later coming upon a philosophy text that seem strangely similar to some vague thoughts and feelings he knows he has lived. James will also undergo traumatic meetings with a psychologist, neurologist and other unsavory characters who will bring him closer than ever to the devastating truth.
Words cannot possibly convey the intelligence, wit, twists and turns of this most memorable work of contemporary fiction that defies classification as mystery, thriller, literary account, psychological and philosophical treatise or fictional memoir.
The Amnesiac is a brilliant, creative, superbly-crafted, thrilling work of fiction sure to delight those who love a good murder mystery, near sci-fi futuristic tale or fiction that yields a unique life perspective. Sam Taylor is a master artist who deserves the highest praise for this unusual, novel approach to writing fiction! Stunning!
Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on July 3, 2008