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The Vintage Book of Amnesia: An Anthology of Writing on the Subject of Memory Loss
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The Vintage Book of Amnesia: An Anthology of Writing on the Subject of Memory Loss

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  213 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Jonathan Lethem is perhaps our most active literary voice mining the genre margins of our culture.In this unique collection he creates an anthology that no one else could.He draws on the work of such unforgettables as Julio Cortazar, who presents a man caught between the ancient and modern worlds unable to say which is real; Philip K. Dick, who tells the story of a man tra ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published October 17th 2000 by Vintage (first published September 1st 2000)
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Randolph Carter
Two problems with this book. First, the title is misleading since only about 1/5 of the stories (and a couple of essays) deal with what I would call amnesia, the rest could mostly be loosely defined as mind or memory stories, and about 1/10 just don't belong here. They must have been editor favorites that Lethem had been dying to use somewhere. This wouldn't be a big problem if most of the stories were exceptional. I'm not adverse to genre bending but I expect a book like this that calls itself ...more
Rarely do I find an anthology of stories as consistently enjoyable as this one. The fiction varies in genre and style, some of it quite innovative, some of it excerpted from longer work. I don't have the book with me to cite, but I remember stories by Philip K. Dick, Samuel R Delany, Kelly Link, Shirley Jackson (I loved hers!, not one I'd read anywhere else) among others. Recommended for those who like stories that are eerie and inventive, resonant and memorable.
Oliver Sacks' essay here, based on neuroscience, differs from most entries in the book. The editor, who apparently created the genre, wrote in his five-page introduction that the thirty-one examples here include amnesia fiction, science, cryptoscience and reverse amnesia.

I wanted to read "The Last Hippie," by Sacks before seeing "The Music Never Stopped." DVD special features included Sacks talking about the story and music therapy when it was new. The film brings the essay to life. Sacks writes
Sep 10, 2007 sarah marked it as to-read
I got this at the ever wonderfully extraordinary Museum of Jurassic Technology, which gets 17 stars just on its own.
Abeer Hoque
It's hard enough to review an anthology, and this one has over 30 stories that run the gamut from science to science fiction and everything in between. I picked this book up as research for my novel (about memory loss and identity) and it was the perfect vehicle to get varied takes on this theme.

I'll mention the bits I liked best (there's a lot) starting with Mr. Lethem's sharp and conversational introduction where he talks about amnesia in fiction operating at the level of the narrative itself
Some stories were great (Five Fucks, The Fall of the Roman Empire..., I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon, and The Zebra-Struck), but others were awful and boring, so I have to give only three stars to average out. The thing is, it's difficult to write about amnesia/mental illness in a way that draws the reader in, especially in a short story where there's a very limited window of opportunity to create the connection, and you can't just begin with a bunch of gibberish in hopes of being "so weird" that th ...more
I can't say that I read every single story, but the opening essay by Lethem is pretty interesting. He wanted the book to be about amnesia as a literary device, not just a psychological state. So there are lots of stories in which no one has amnesia, but pieces are missing in some way. I especially liked the Borges story.

Side note: I really recommend Lethem's book The Fortress of Solitude if you like comics, a little bit of fantasy in the real world, music, and coming of age stories.
Nik Kane
To be honest I don't remember much about this book.
A wide range of short stories dealing with the theme of memory. Some of them were quite enjoyable, including Philip K. Dick's "I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon" and Jorge Luis Borges' "Funes the Memorious". Not all of them were winners though. You have to pick your way through this one.
Amnesia is possibly one of the most interesting topics to use as a centerpiece for an anthology. This anthology is expansive and contains new writers as well as old ones, from Oliver Saks' intriguing essay on medical amnesia to Nabokov's poetic prose on the topic of forgetting.
Mike Noyes
this collection of short stories was more miss than hit. and some of them seemed to have little if nothing to do with amnesia. I love the other Jonathan Lethem books I've read but this anthology, sadly, did little for me.
Lethem as editor for essays on memory from Borges, Oliver Sacks, Murakami, PKD, AND Barthelme (and STEVER ERICKSON?!)...great introduction to literary expressions of human memory...
K.J. Kron
Some of these stories are quite good. And some of these are parts of novels. A couple of them got me interested enough to read the entire novel. Overall, I say the collection is OK.
Some great stories in here, but I only remember the one by Shirley Jackson, and the intriguing, as always, chapter by Oliver Sacks.
Feb 21, 2010 Alex added it
The Vintage Book of Amnesia : An Anthology of Writing on the Subject of Memory Loss (Vintage Original) (2000)
Oct 14, 2009 Clint added it
I would add a star rating and a written rating as well, but I forget what the book is about.
The stories by Cornell Woolrich and Shirley Jackson are worth the price of the whole book.

I know I read this book. I just don't remember anything about it...
Keith Seekwhence
I forgot I had this. Working my way to it.
Aug 10, 2010 matthew rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to matthew by: ms. treat
i'm gon' get it on the kindle!
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Goodreads Librari...: Subject 3 37 Oct 17, 2012 12:48PM  
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Jonathan Allen Lethem (born February 19, 1964) is an American novelist, essayist and short story writer.

His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a genre work that mixed elements of science fiction and detective fiction, was published in 1994. It was followed by three more science fiction novels. In 1999, Lethem published Motherless Brooklyn, a National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novel t
More about Jonathan Lethem...
Motherless Brooklyn The Fortress of Solitude Gun, With Occasional Music Chronic City As She Climbed across the Table

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