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The Memory Artists

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,103 ratings  ·  94 reviews
Winner of the Canadian Authors Association Award for Best Novel

Noel Burun has synesthesia and hypermnesia: he sees words in vibrant explosions of colors and shapes, which collide and commingle to form a memory so bitingly perfect that he can remember everything, from the 1001 stories of The Arabian Nights to the color of his bib as a toddler. But for all his mnemonic abili
Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 21st 2006 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 2001)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,103 ratings  ·  94 reviews

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Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It began as a lab theorizing about synesthesia and evolved into an ode to human creativity in such an inspiring and heartbreaking way.
Sep 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is a quick and engaging book to read. The characters are fabulous; they are interesting and sympathetic. But the plot gets more and more confusing as the book goes on. By the end, I had no clue what was happening. In fact, I found the ending very disappointing. The writing style isn't well-developed, and in my opinion could have benefited from more vigorous editing. Too much of the plot in the book seems to fall back on literary cliches. The dialogue is stiff and hackneyed.

That being said,
Nov 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Chemists, Poets, Psychologists
Recommended to Lorraine by: randomly picked off the shelft at the public library
Shelves: canadian, zz2010
So different! I loved the uniqueness of the book. It is a novel, but designed to be a compilation of narrations and diary entries "written" by a neuropsychologist as if it were actually an academic work, complete with the narrator's endnotes (for once you actually need to read the endnotes!) Vorta, the doctor is a complete nut job, but you only really meet him through the endnotes and the character's discussion of him. Noel is a synesthesia and hypermnesia dealing with his mother's Alzheimer's. ...more
Apr 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Touching and well written
Kate McDougall Sackler
This interesting book took me awhile to get into, but eventually I learned to love it. A socially awkward man with synesthesia and his few friends work together towards a cure for Alzheimer’s. Told mostly through diaries, newspaper articles, and lab reports the beautiful descriptions and wacky characters won me over.
2019 reading challenge: a book you bought for the cover
Alphabet reading challenge: Q- Quebec
Eylem Caner
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
The mid part is difficult to read if you have experienced alzheimers disease first hand. After that though it picks up with interesting characters and their relationships.

Noel and Norval especially are extremely interesting, both by themselves but also their relationship.
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Less about synaesthesia than I'd hoped, because only a fraction of the book is from Noel's (the synaesthete's) perspective, but still an entertaining story. ...more
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting look into synaesthesia. Loved the characters, but the ending was so abrupt.
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book I read it a long time ago but I still remember i was at the edge of my seat when I was reading it but it was a bit predictable which I don't really like ...more
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
When you finish the book, you will be thinking that its a true based story rather than a fiction, although it's what section you bought it from. ...more
Jul 06, 2012 rated it liked it
The Memory Artists

Synaesthesia: Somebody affected by synaethesia may 'experience' colours when they hear or read words, while others 'see' sounds or 'hear' colours.

Alzheimer: a form of dementia that gradually gets worse over time. It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.

Noel Burun has synaesthesia and his mother, Stella Burun, has Alzheimer. Throughout the novel, we get an insider’s view of Noel’s life as he strugg
Apr 14, 2011 rated it liked it
A little underwhelming, story-wise but did contain good information about enhancing memory naturally through the use of nature. Everything I researched that was casually mentioned by the characters had a grain of truth in it. I'm not sure one should "torch" all of one's lavender if one wants to improve one's memory but the reasoning behind it slowing your memory makes sense and tests prove it. Also, Vitara…so much more than an awesome Suzuki SUV. Lots of good information to be learned here.

The o
Apr 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
A perhaps not so unusual piece of postmodern fiction. The hopes that I had for this book were definitely not met in that the focus was not on Noel's condition but instead, the relationships and similarities between himself, his mother, friends and to a lesser extent, his doctor. Through its simplicity the writing style is easy to follow despite jumping from character to character, which can be disconcerting for some. The most interesting element between the separate elements of the characters is ...more
Melynda Yesenia
Feb 09, 2008 rated it liked it
most of the character development is done entirely in question and answer format so that it's sort of like reading transcripts of a talk show rather than a novel. it was really grating until over half way in when i realized i really wanted to know how everything turns out for noel's mom and what the arabian nights had anything to do with anything. add in the science experiments and a darkened, secret laboratory and i was drawn in, completely.

also, this automatically gets a star for being about
Jul 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2006
this one's about a guy with a super-memory and synaesthesia , trying to find a cure for his mother who has alzheimers, along with some friends. it's written as if it's a non-fiction account by the guy's neuropsychologist, complete with footnotes and interspersed with excerpts from all the other characters' diaries. i liked the odd structure (it was yet another bookslut recommendation and jessa read it because of the blurb from david mitchell, whose cloud atlas was another wonderful, structurally ...more
David Rim
Jan 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
The Memory Artists is almost hallucinatory, layered upon itself endlessly, revolving around the connection between memory, creativity and intelligence. As I was alternating between hilarity and utter confusion, I realized that this book is one of the most imaginative and creative works I've come across in awhile. Some of the cleverness didnt work all that well, such that in the end I had to say that it falls short of being a great novel, or even one of my favorites. But it is highly engaging, th ...more
Jan 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Memory Artists by Jeffrey Moore is one of those books that has been growing on me the longer I read it. Noel Burun has a condition called synaesthesia which causes him to attach colors to events from his past and part of the story is told from his point of view. (By the way, I looked up this condition and it does exist.) His mother has Alzheimers and part of the story is told from her point of view not to mention the points of view of other "unusual" characters that are also represented. Thi ...more
Steev Hise
Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Steev by: raquel
Shelves: novels
a touching and clever novel.

its a great combo of characters. snotty cynical Rimbaud-wannabe, semi-autistic wingnut, hypergenius dork, etc

the alzheimer's stuff is sad cuz my grandmother had it, and it got even sadder when i read at the end in the acknowldegements that he learned a lot from his parents who both had it.

i like the interesting frame around the story, too, with the footnotes by the arrogant scientist, correcting things in the text and bragging about how great the swiss are.

anyway, rea
I picked this up for £1 in Poundland (a UK chain of stores where everything is £1). My local branch often has hardback books which I can't resist so I often end up buying things that I wouldn't usually buy or even come across in normal bookshops.

This novel takes the form of a study reconstructed by a neuropsychologist of some of this patients with memory conditions - these range from those who can't remember anything to those who can't forget anything.

It's an interesting subject, and makes for a
Genni Gunn
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Memory Artists is a novel that covers many contemporary topics, through sparkling language, memorable characters, and an interesting plot line. One of the "memory artists" of the title is a character to can't forget anything, and the other is his mother, who increasingly, can't remember everything. Jeffrey Moore pulls in much of our contemporary malaise, showing us life in Montreal in this age of disconnection. ...more
Cindy Suedoku
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is an amazing book. The author depicts several types of memory differences with enough neurological information for the curious but not so much that it detracted from the characters. I'd give it 4.5 stars. The plot, setting, themes, and characters were all beautifully developed despite some quirky barriers to the plot. It seemed like the book's ending was lacking the same artistry as the rest of the book. ...more
Sep 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers
Brilliant book that plays with style on every page. THe narrotr switches voices so often that it will make you head spin, which is a great feeling when wrapping your head around this book. THe footnotes were amazingly detailed and added a great post modern comic relief to some dense material. This book will make you envious and relieved.
Oct 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites, owned, 2013
Sighhh managed to walk right into another sad, feelingsy, inevitability-of-eventual-decline-into-death book...but not really?! I ended up liking this book a lot better than I thought I would, so that's a plus!
Norval was a very interesting character, but I don't much like him, though I can understand him.
Annie Feng
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Love the topic, not so much the book. It's a really sad book drenched in an air of hopelessness and science fiction, and reading it at the young age of 14 helped neither confidence nor passion in the field of science. On the other hand, a book like "a mango shaped space" might've been more appropriate for introduction to the topic, but this book was nevertheless fascinating. ...more
Sunny Shaffner
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this book around the same time I started to develop an interest in psychology. Jeffrey Moore paints vivid pictures and an imaginative story. The characters in this book are spectacular and highlight the contrast between each other. The quirky characters and their interactions and perception make for an engaging read. Highly recommended!
Jul 06, 2015 rated it liked it
I didn't like this book at all to begin with: words like 'glabrous' and 'pullulating' were used and it felt pretentious. But I'm glad I stuck with it, because it got a whole lot better once Noel's memory-bereft mother, Stella Burun was introduced. I enjoyed the multiple viewpoints and the element of mystery about the attacks on Samira, JJ, and Norval. The denouement was satisfying, too. ...more
Nabil Mohamed
Although the book was quite interesting because of its odd design (a mixture of first person, lab diaries, and diaries) and featured fantastic character development, I found the confusing plot was a major turn-off for me.
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it

Lots of fun quirky characters, with a nice mix of moral ambiguity, and fascinating information about Alzheimer's and synestasia . I originally picked it up because the author of Cloud Atlas was quoted on the cover...and I was totally entertained.
Kelley Lund
Jun 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Very erudite and highly unusual book that lost me at times with its chemical formulas and endless flipping to endnotes. I almost abandoned it after the first chapter, but I hung in and found it to be an intriguing read that was far different from just about every other book I have read.
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Born in Montreal, Jeffrey Moore was educated at the University of Toronto, the Sorbonne (Paris) and the University of Ottawa. He is currently a freelance translator and Lecturer in Translation at the Université de Montréal. He works for museums, theatres, dance companies and film festivals around the world, and has an extensive list of published translations to his credit, including Magritte, Cent ...more

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