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Confessions of a Memory Eater

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3.39  ·  Rating Details ·  241 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
"Complicated, cool and vulnerable at the same time...you can't help falling for Pagan Kennedy's characters."—Stephen Dubner, The New York Times

Once a brilliant historian with a promising academic future, Win Duncan is at a crossroads in his career when he is mysteriously summoned by Litminov, a wild but brilliant chemist from his college days. Litminov has made millions si
...more
Paperback, 171 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by Leapfrog Press
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Meridith Morrissey
Sep 03, 2007 Meridith Morrissey rated it it was ok
Shelves: completedbooks
In this brief little novel, the main character takes the experimental drug, Mem, which allows him to re-visit scenes from his past. Kennedy has interesting thoughts about the concept of memory, but I much preferred the movie, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which deals better with the same ideas.
Laurie
I thought the first half of this was utterly depressing.
Marisa
Sep 08, 2007 Marisa rated it really liked it
I wrote a long review of this for the common book committee, so I'm just going to paste the majority of it here...

Summary from Amazon:
“Once a brilliant historian with a promising academic future, Win Duncan is at a crossroads in his career when he is mysteriously summoned by Litminov, a wild but brilliant chemist from his college days. Litminov has made millions since, and has bought a pharmaceutical company solely to develop MEM, an experimental drug that gives one the ability to recall life's
...more
Dalene
Nov 19, 2008 Dalene rated it liked it
Ever wish you could go back in time and live a special moment again? I have asked people that from time to time, and I find their answers very interesting. Every now and then I do wish I could go back in time to see certain people again, but most of the time I am content to be moving forward through time. Even so, the title of Pagan Kennedy’s book “Confessions of a Memory Eater” caught my eye as I perused the shelves of the Emporia Public Library. So, I took it home with me and went on a journey ...more
Trish
Dec 02, 2007 Trish rated it really liked it
Win Duncan, a disaffected academic sleepwalking through listless days, is contacted out of the blue by Phil Litminov, a dynamic, vaguely criminal pal from his grad student days. Litminov wants Win to help test -- and to explain -- a miraculous new drug that allows you to re-live your memories. One pill and you're 7 or 14 or 21 again, your consciousness piggybacking on your younger self. One trip on Mem and Win is hooked -- if he can get his hands on enough pills, he can go remember how to be hap ...more
Tamara
Sep 25, 2007 Tamara rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This didn't have quite as much meat as I wanted. However, I agree with Marisa that this would make a good common book for Otterbein. It has fairly simple language and plot to keep a busy freshman interested. Plus there are a lot of memory-culling creative writing exercises that could go along with this. But for my interests, I wanted more descriptive and metaphoric language.

Favorite Quotes:

She stored my past inside her. She contained pieces of me.

The boy stared down at the iron birdbath in th
...more
Mia
Sep 09, 2013 Mia rated it really liked it
I really wish there were half stars, this isn't quite a 4, but more than a 3.

I found the premise of this book irresistible: take a pill and relive the best moments of your life, not just as if you were watching a movie, but feeling everything the way you had when it first happened. The disappointment is that when Win Duncan takes this pill, Mem, what he experiences seems to be no more than somewhat vivid dreams of mundane days in his past. Win says it's difficult to explain how Mem makes one fee
...more
Aaron
Aug 03, 2007 Aaron rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who liked Time Traveller's Wife
This book is short enough to read in an afternoon, and it is beautifully written. If you've ever wished you could go back in time and re-live certain moments, this book is for you. The pill (presumably pictured on the front cover)allows you to actually go back and re-live a memory in full. It's not exactly time travel, which makes this one different and introduces a new concept...

The cast of supporting characters was not developed well enough, leaving me feeling like I'd spent too much time with
...more
Stephen Dorneman
Apr 07, 2012 Stephen Dorneman rated it really liked it
This is a quiet book that starts slow, but that rewards the patient reader. A failing academic, once an acclaimed student with a brilliant future ahead of him, meets with a mysterious figure from his past who brings a drug that allows the user to fully inhabit their past memories. Kennedy has created a meditation on addiction, on living, and on dying, and on the regrets that come with all of those states of being and the choices made and not made along the way. The text is marred with a few-too- ...more
Marvin
Aug 04, 2009 Marvin rated it it was ok
Another in a string of peculiar books I've read since the first of the year. An underachieving history prof at a small, mediocre college is unhappy with his life, his career, & his marraige. Given a chance to take a pill that produces vivid memories--virtually reenactments but not really time travel--to particular moments in the past, he thinks he can somehow recover the kind of happiness he thinks he had in the past. With a mother who was primarily backward looking & a father who very m ...more
Ubik
Oct 02, 2008 Ubik rated it really liked it
Havent read this yet, but wanted to chime in with something while waiting for it to come in at the library. Id had this on my list for quite some time, but it wasnt until today when I was I was researching what my favorite director Brad Anderson might be up to, that I noticed that he was adapting this. So...now I MUST read this as soon as fnuggin possible. Will post my review and/or opinion once Ive read it.
Marty
Feb 09, 2009 Marty rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookclub, 2009
I loved this book.

The main character is introduced to a drug called Mem, which can take you back in memory and allows you to reexperience the happiest memories of your life and essentially live in the past while you're high.

It made me think about a lot of things. What times in my life I would want to relive, if I could. When was I the happiest? What times would I avoid like the plague and be afraid of remembering in such detail?
Sundry
Sep 26, 2007 Sundry rated it did not like it
This book started out in a very interesting direction and has a very interesting theme regarding memory and how we can use it and how we might harness it...

But it didn't pay off for me. I ended up skimming the last twenty or so pages. I think Kennedy should have spent another six months mining her theme for resonance. The central character and his conflicts could have been more engagingly connected to the theme.
Nick
Mar 09, 2008 Nick rated it liked it
I had high expectations for this book. But...eh.
I really liked the premise, something that I have dreamed of before. I'm loathe to say (because i like Kennedy's other works) but the execution was lacking. She could have explored a vast array of emotions, including terror, but instead it seems she wanted to focus on the academic aspect of the plot---the one that mirrors De Quincey's "Confessions...Opium Eater".
Danielle
Jun 05, 2007 Danielle rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this book after reading a sparkling review of it in a magazine last year. Although it was short, it took me a while to get through. It felt a little dense and I got bored with the narrator (who was always in his own head, as the title says). The book left a lot to be desired. Pagan Kennedey didn't try hard enough at the mysterious parts of the book, although she did wrench my heart a little when discussing a dying character.
Jane
Aug 22, 2012 Jane rated it it was amazing
Kennedy has a way of weaving words into sentence fragments into stories about characters you can't help but care about. This is considerably more plot-intensive than The Exes, an earlier novel, and slightly more focused, but the writing style remains similar and the book is incredibly enjoyable to read, if moderately depressing.
Darius
Jun 18, 2015 Darius rated it it was amazing
I like it. It's a great read and I'll keep it in me forever.

It gives you a new perspective about time traveling and shows how human sorrow is shared by everyone. It gives you a sense of hopelessness sometimes by reminding your youthful enthusiasm and postivity during our youth and then we find ourselves lost during this our present self.
Bry
Sep 09, 2007 Bry rated it liked it
If only there was a pill we could swallow to get our best and happiest times back. All of the characters in this book were selfish, and I guess you would have to be to want to relive your life as you remember it best. Crack rock for the Alzheimer's set. Or just the deluded. Or just the depressed and unhappy.

Jeremy
Jan 07, 2009 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
I just enjoyed "The Dangerous Joy of Dr. Sex" so much that I felt the need to read more of her work. This book really took me in as both a story to relate to and learn from. It is a cool mixture of both sci-fiction and biography. It shows us the dangers of living in the past and the need to help change things for the better.
Carly
Jan 16, 2008 Carly rated it it was amazing
This book was totally mesmerizing. It weaves spellbinding plot and soulful prose in a way I've rarely seen accomplished. I blew through it in a week, despite an insanely busy schedule. I can honestly say it's the best book I've read in the last two years.
Cmullark
Jul 05, 2010 Cmullark rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book immensely until the last couple of chapters. It's an enveloping story of self-medication covering lost dreams and relationships. I think the author eased way up at the end of the book and took the easy way out, but all in all, I'm glad I read it.
Marshaferz
May 15, 2010 Marshaferz rated it it was ok
Fabulous concept, weak execution, disturbing cover. The author seems to dislike most of her characters intensely, and it's hard to figure out their motivations. An interesting book club discussion on the meaning of memory, but not a great book.
Bill Shields
Apr 05, 2008 Bill Shields rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: y'all
Recommended to Bill by: no one
Coming from the 60's I couldn't not read this book. I had a lot of fun and fortunately it did not go where I expected it to. Introspective, sensitive and surprising. Highly enjoyable and an esay read.
Brooke
May 10, 2008 Brooke rated it did not like it
It's a good thing this book was only 171 pages, because I would have put it down. Don't recommend it...no real gripping story line.
Kristen King
Jul 15, 2010 Kristen King rated it really liked it
Very interesting read. Interesting concept. Well developed characters. Left me with lots to think about.
Ian
Jun 20, 2008 Ian rated it really liked it
I guess I was expecting it to be more science fiction and less, I don't know, literature, and the whole thing is rather slight, but I found it resonated, so I can't bear to give it only three stars.
Gayle Zawilla
May 05, 2014 Gayle Zawilla rated it liked it
Liked the character portrayals in this book, but wish the Mem drug was given a fuller treatment instead of just being a vehicle to advance the plot.
Susan
Aug 26, 2008 Susan rated it really liked it
The premise was interesting and I found myself wondering for days after I read it, "What memories would I revisit?"
Cathy
Feb 10, 2008 Cathy rated it liked it
Interesting, but I can't wrap my head around people who are constantly wanting to live in the past and have no idea how they got where they are today.
Diane
Diane rated it liked it
Aug 23, 2008
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Pagan Kennedy is a regular contributor to the New York Times and author of eleven books. A biography titled Black Livingstone made the NewYork Times Notable list and earned Massachusetts Book Award honors. She also has been the recipient of a Barnes and Noble Discover Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and a Smithsonian Fellowship for science writing. Visit her online ...more
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“She'd spent years trying to explain herself to me (and I to her), but in the end, it had all been for nothing. I could recite her memories, but I could not feel them. She was another country, and I would never travel there.” 9 likes
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