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Memories of the Future

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  2,031 ratings  ·  300 reviews
Memories of the Future tells the story of a young Midwestern woman’s first year in New York City in the late 1970s and her obsession with her mysterious neighbor, Lucy Brite.

As she listens to Lucy through the thin walls of her dilapidated building, S.H., aka “Minnesota,” transcribes her neighbor’s bizarre and increasingly ominous monologues in a notebook, along with sundry
Hardcover, 318 pages
Published March 19th 2019 by Simon Schuster
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The Bookish Gardener yes. my library has the nude version. i took the book into my writers' class and the older women were a bit shocked.…moreyes. my library has the nude version. i took the book into my writers' class and the older women were a bit shocked.(less)

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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  2,031 ratings  ·  300 reviews

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By the time I'm halfway through a book, I can usually tell what I'm going to think of it – whether it's going to be a fun-but-flawed throwaway read I'll forget in a couple of weeks (three stars) or a wonderful new favourite (five, obviously) or something in between. But with Memories of the Future I constantly vacillated between my love of Siri Hustvedt's writing and irritation or, worse, boredom at the book's rambling approach.

It's one of those semi-autobiographical novels in which it's hard to
Gumble's Yard
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
This book is a portrait of the artist as young woman, the artist who came to New York to live and to suffer and to write her mystery, Like the great detective who shares her initials S.H., the writer, sees, hears and smells the clues. The signs are everywhere, in a face, in the sky, in a book. A letter is slipped under the door. A knife arrives in the mail. Footsteps sound in the street and in the hallway. She turns her key in the lock. The woman are chanting in the next room. Unlike Holmes,
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I promised myself that 2020 would include far more re-reads of books than previous years because I do love to re-visit a good book and I rarely make time for it with all the new books pouring in.

Where better to start than with a second look at one of my favourite books of 2019. I have read several of Hustvedt's novels and thoroughly enjoyed all of them. This one might just be top of my list.

I've left my original review below and I'm not going to add to that except for a couple of additional quot
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2019
A Christmas present I couldn't resist reading immediately. Siri Hustvedt is one of my favourite writers, and her novels don't come along very often.

Appropriately for a book so largely about memory, this one often blurs the lines between fact and fiction - the heroine S.H. shares many biographical similarities with Hustvedt but there are some obvious differences, notably the physicist husband. This gives Hustvedt the space to talk about very personal subject matter while adopting a fictional cloa
Robert Blumenthal
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a gem on so many levels. This is my third novel by Siri Hustvedt, and I have enjoyed them all immensely. She is definitely a really strong writer, and quite versatile as well. This one is definitely the most complex and creative of the three, and for the first time she seems to be influenced by her former partner, one Paul Auster. This is a novel of metafiction, the lead character being called S.H., as well as other nicknames such as Minnesota. She is a budding writer, attempting to ...more
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa
If I had started reading the printed book rather than listening to the audiobook, I probably would have stopped after a hundred pages. I liked Siri Hustvedt's sophisticated language and vast knowledge, but the story of her younger alter ego did not captivate me beyond the somewhat voyeuristic insight into the life of a young provincial woman in New York. What made me persevere was Iris Berben's voice and the curiosity into what was behind the strange behaviour of S.H.'s neighbour Lucy. So maybe, ...more
Stephen P
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A perfect set up. So how could I be disappointed in one of my favorite authors?

Hustvedt provides us a writer in 2017 coming upon her notebooks, journals, and novel from 1978-79, the year she left the plains of Minnesota to live in New York. How phenomenal to be able to read about herself through that expanse of time. Watching that incredibly well read young woman entering the big city in order to write a detective novel about two youngsters playing Sherlock Holmes where there is always an answer
Jonathan Pool
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-lit
I have to give it to Siri Hustvedt. She packs a lot into this book. It’s my first Hustvedt experience; I was expecting deep thinking, and complicated cerebral writing. That’s exactly what she delivers. It’s very good indeed for the most part and Hustvedt’s own reflection on life as she wraps up the book could be applied to the reading experience:
“ the whole is other than the sum of its parts”(295) taken from psychologist,Kurt Koffka .

References to great writers and thinkers occur throughout the
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the fourth Siri Hustvedt novel I have read. It sounds hyperbolic but I pretty much worship this author for her intelligence and her well formed feminist views. My top two favorites are What I Loved and The Blazing World. I think Memories of the Future is her most tricky and complex novel yet and don't expect everyone to like it. In fact, possibly many readers I know would not like it at all.

What she has done is created a fictional memoir. In the process she examines memory, the female
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5, rounded down

The only other Hustvedt I've read is her last novel, Booker-nommed The Blazing World, which I enjoyed tremendously and gave a 5 star rating. Although this also has much to offer (and ponder), I was not QUITE as enthralled, hence the 4.5, rounded down to 4. Perhaps in retrospect (memory... in the future?) I might up it to a full 5.

While Hustvedt's writing and references aren't always clear (to me, at least), I find many of her thoughts and expressions of such enchanting and insi
Callum Macdonald
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“I have always believed that memory and the imagination are a single faculty”

Siri Hustvedt’s forthcoming Memories of the Future is an intellectual and emotional powerhouse. In the most engaging form of meta-narrative, Hustvedt acts as both narrator, interlocutor, and responder to her 23-year-old self. Reflecting upon a long-lost journal, Memories of the Future combines Hustvedt’s own journal entries, from her year spent in New York trying to write her first novel, with her current self. Along th
I read the first 112 pages and then skimmed up to page 174. “I am writing not only to tell. I am writing to discover. … I have always believed that memory and the imagination are a single faculty.” S.H. moved from Minnesota to New York City in 1978. Young and idealistic, she deferred her studies for a year to write a neo-Dickensian novel starring a 14-year-old would-be detective. Like Ian Feathers, her protagonist, she fancies herself a Sherlock Holmes (also S.H.!) type, investigating her past t ...more
Apr 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
This gets a single star for the cover illustration. Nothing that comes after is worth a star.
Daniel Chaikin
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Litsy post 5-days ago:

Wish I could capture this. Playful and clever like Ali Smith, but more philosophy, Hustvedt is just really enjoyable to spend time with. Here she talks to her 23 yr old self alone in New York City in 1978, beautiful, intelligent, awash in poetry and philosophy, disregarded for her gender, writing a failed novel, flashing a switchblade. Somewhere I saw this described as a rage against the patriarchy. It‘s also fun. Really happy I finally read her.

Now it's even worse.
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
this worked well for me right now - inspiring on many levels. the story of one year in new york (1978/79) when « the writer as a young woman » comes to nyc - the city she has dreamed of - to find the hero if her first novel.
she will not find what she imagined - but of course other stories, people, insight, many things. including, many years later - this novel.
there are different levels of the narration - present time, the « old writer » looking back, looking inside, remembering, reconstructing,
Kristi Lamont
May 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
A pastiche of pretentiousness and self-indulgence.....

Ugh. Just ugh. I had to wait an entire day to write my reaction to this book because I needed to make sure I was as annoyed by it as I thought I was, not just irritable because of some ridiculously unseasonable hot temperatures.

I was.

If I could give it 1.5 stars I would. It's like the author dipped into first drafts of everything she'd ever written and threw bits and pieces of each onto the pages of a new document, along with a few political
Kasa Cotugno
Wildly imaginative and challenging, both personal and universal, this is the latest work by Siri Hustvedt writing at the top of her game. Her character (S.H.) comes across a journal kept during her first year in New York, and her 61-year-old self becomes reacquainted with her 22-year-old self. The reader, who is addressed now and again ("There is no story without a listener...) is shifted between the two time periods, seamlessly. Dubbed "Minnesota" after her home state, S.H. makes her way around ...more
Chris Haak
Mar 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Let me start by saying that I love Hustvedt's work, but the first half of this book I was really struggling and even thinking of not finishing it. I liked the memoir and the fact/fiction bit, but I had trouble with the Lucy Brite part and the Sherlock Holmes story she was trying to write. At times, it just bored me. Luckily, it got better halfway. It seemed to become less fragmentary or more coherent (or maybe I got used to her style more) and I even started to become interested into Lucy Brite ...more
A pick by my book club that I would likely not have finished if not for that motivation (and being able to find it on audio). This is a rambling type memoir of a young woman's first year in NYC. She moves to the city in 1978 a year before she is to start graduate school with the idea that she will take this year to write a novel. She moves into a dismal apartment with paper thin walls on the upper west side at about 109th and begins her new exciting living and writing life. Early on she begins t ...more
Paul Fulcher
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
We were pleased with ourselves, you see, and that self-satisfaction was derived from just the right amount of self-consciousness.

The meta-narrative of this cleverly constructed novel in impressive - the musings on memory versus imagination, the unashamed intellectualism and gloriously overwritten prose, and the fight against the diminution and patronising treatment of strong female creative voices.

“Over the years, I have found myself deeply amused by enthusiastic responses to high-flown allusio
Brona's Books
I'm inclined to anticipate enjoyment of Hustvedt's work thanks solely (so far) on my experience with What I Loved. I feel sure that I will be in for an intelligent, literary treat.

The first chapter did not disappointed.

Metafiction is the name of this game as Hustvedt's story explores a 61 yr old woman looking book on the journal written by her 23 yr old self when she first moved to New York to write.

In a curious, personal, twist of fate, there is a Don Quixote connection right from the start.

Silvan Loher
I don't really know what to make of this book. Parts of it I found brilliant, parts rambling, other parts excruciating. Also the book is somewhat repetitive and loaded with cultural/literary references that sometimes seem more show-off than anything else. The angry feminism gets a bit repetitive towards the end. Brilliantly written. ...more
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
Metafiction and feminism. So up my alley.
Kathryn Bashaar
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
This story is told on 3 parallel trajectories: the narration of adult S.H. (or "Minnesota" as she is nicknamed by her friends in New York in the 1970s), the notebooks that S.H. kept during her momentous year as an aspiring author in NYC, and in the novel that S.H. was writing at the time. A fourth, minor trajectory is the story of the Baroness, a poet and artist from the 1920s who fascinates S.H.

A common thread through all three is the dominance of men over women. Hustvedt ties together many dis
I can't believe I'm setting this aside after only 27 pages! In those 27 pages, I learned all I needed to know that this was not a book for me, I'm sorry to say. I had high hopes, especially because, like Siri Hustvedt and her fictional narrator 23-year-old S.H., I moved to New York City at a young age. Not from the flat lands of Minnesota, but from the flat lands of Illinois. Although I didn't move there to write a great novel, still I thought I would connect because of this commonality and beca ...more
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written story about time: how we remember it, and what it means to us in the present. This was reminiscent, to me, of W. G. Sebald's Rings of Saturn. A simultaneous tale of three dimensions: 1) the author at 24 recently moved to NYC in June of 1977. She wants to write a novel, but is increasingly compelled to listen to her neighbor through the walls. Was her son murdered? 2) the time of the novel being written by first narrator in which 2 teen detectives sleuth a murder mystery 3) th ...more
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Totally enthralling and captivating, I could not put this down. Hustvedt is a superb writer, with narrators that get under your skin.

Told in three parts - from the journals of her younger self, who has taken a year out in New York to write a novel, her older self looking back through the journals, and the novel her twenty year old self writes during that time. It’s an intensely intertwined story, with beautiful threads of identity, maturity, resilience, relationships & gender.

Spanning the full
Mar 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I abandoned this book at about the 30% mark. There's the present day story, the story of her memories from New York in 1978, and the story within a story which is the novel she's writing in 1978. The more I read, the less and less interested I became. I didn't like the back and forth amongst those three story lines. There were no characters who grabbed me, no characters that made me want to invest my time. I liked the premise of the book but unfortunately, for me, this was not a good read. ...more
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: here, y2019
3.5 hustvedt's approaches become less subtle with each novel and I wish she didn't always feel the need to spell things out so much. still, this was very much worth the read I think - lots of stuff in here. ...more
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Siri Hustvedt's new novel, Memories of the Future, is on the face of it an entry in a very familiar genre; young provincial woman goes to New York in 1979 to immerse herself in art, living in a sketchy apartment and working exploitative and/or weird jobs to make ends meet. And as an example of this genre, I've read better even just within the last few months (Self-Portrait with Boy is both more interesting on making art and more evocative of a vanished world). However, Memories of the Future is ...more
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Hustvedt was born in Northfield, Minnesota. Her father Lloyd Hustvedt was a professor of Scandinavian literature, and her mother Ester Vegan emigrated from Norway at the age of thirty. She holds a B.A. in history from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University; her thesis on Charles Dickens was entitled Figures of Dust: A Reading of Our Mutual Friend.

Hustvedt has mainly made

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