Englischsprachige Literatur

Block Stefan Merrill

The Story of Forgetting

Faber&Faber, London 2009


Stefan M. Block published this novel when he was only 26, and the reader can hardly believe that someone so young wrote a novel so mature, so full of love, caring, and suffering. And wrote in such fascinating language, that transforms even scientific results of research into the human brain into something colourful and easy to understand, a bit like the painting on the cover of the book.

We first meet 70-year-old hunchback Abel, who lives alone in his derelict house, surrounded by property development, not prepared to leave, because he is waiting for his daughter Jamie to come back to him one day.

Then young Seth (alter ego of the author) takes over the narrative, telling us about his dire situation: He is bullied at school, neglected by his father, looking after his ailing mother. He has to watch helplessly how she gradually disappears into Alzheimer´s state of forgetting. He reads every book he can lay his hands on about the disease, which has run in his family for generations and sets out to find other family members with the same disease.

Abel and Seth take turns in telling their story, between chapters we learn the tale of the happy land of Isidora, where people live without any memory, the land Seth´s mother has told him about when she still had a brain to do so.

The different strands of the story finally come together, which the reader knows well ahead of Seth and Abel, but it is really fascinating, if rather depressing reading.