Customer Reviews for

The Memory Palace

Average Rating 3.5
( 222 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(70)

4 Star

(35)

3 Star

(47)

2 Star

(36)

1 Star

(34)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

Multiple Levels of Wonderful

There have been a number of reviews that discuss the content of The Memory Palace, which is indeed rich with the story of struggle, of survival, and of finding one's way out of a quandary that is as difficult as any brought to Solomon. How does a person navigate a life ...
There have been a number of reviews that discuss the content of The Memory Palace, which is indeed rich with the story of struggle, of survival, and of finding one's way out of a quandary that is as difficult as any brought to Solomon. How does a person navigate a life away from, yet intertwined with, a damaged, gifted, brilliant mother who surely loves you? Bartok shows us her navigation through murky nightmares of living with a profoundly mentally ill loved one. She shows her heart rending decision to let her mother go; those of us who have experienced similar decisions marvel at her courage. The way in which Bartok manages to keep a loose tether to her mother, while creating a full artistic life for herself is one the strongest aspects of this book.
The other thing that makes this an outstanding book is its structure, one that requires the reader to look beyond the surface of the book. Bartok's illustrations, and chapters beginning with her mother's letters are deftly juxtaposed with the narrative of her own travails and travels.
There are points at which the narrative abruptly changes, and for a moment you think that that you might have missed something. I find this one of the book's strengths. One of the brilliant parts of the book, the occasional abrupt change of scene where people and places seem to disappear from the narrative, is clearly one of the books strengths, marking it as a work of literature. I see this occasional disjointedness as a literary technique, a brilliant one.
I love this aspect of the narrative, for the few missing pieces seem to mimic the disjointed nature of the writer's life and the literal dislocations described in the book.
Also, it seems to me that the style of writing perhaps mirrors Bartok's cognitive processes while recovering from her traumatic brain injury. Now, I could be reading a bit into this, but there is something of the abruptness of the change, of scene, of work, of lovers, of lands, that in technique, mimics what is happening in the writer's life.
This is an important book. This is a brilliant book, and while completely different in terms of genre, it reminds me of some of the best contemporary long poems wherein the occasional gap and juxtaposition makes the work enjoyable and memorable.
Read the book; savor it; ruminate over it after you are done. A wonderful read!

posted by PoetryDoc on May 6, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

A Mother Abandoned

It is inexcusable how the author and her sister abandoned their mentally ill mother to pursue their own interests. Norma, their mother, pleaded for help, but they changed their names and kept their addresses a secret. They had no contact with their mother for 17 years...
It is inexcusable how the author and her sister abandoned their mentally ill mother to pursue their own interests. Norma, their mother, pleaded for help, but they changed their names and kept their addresses a secret. They had no contact with their mother for 17 years. Mira questioned her mother's whereabouts, what she was wearing in the cold, where she was living, what she was eating - but she never came in contact with her, even the day she went incognito to the home Norma was living. She wanted to see the home, but not her mother. It was not until her mother was dying in hospice that the author and her sister finally came to spend time during their mother's last days.

This book, although very well written, was more like a novel. I did not need a history lesson of the different places Mira went to live. The book brought tears to my eyes of how selfish and self-centered two daughters can be and how they can toss their mother aside when she so desperately needed moral and physical support.

posted by 10497542 on February 16, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2012

    A Mother Abandoned

    It is inexcusable how the author and her sister abandoned their mentally ill mother to pursue their own interests. Norma, their mother, pleaded for help, but they changed their names and kept their addresses a secret. They had no contact with their mother for 17 years. Mira questioned her mother's whereabouts, what she was wearing in the cold, where she was living, what she was eating - but she never came in contact with her, even the day she went incognito to the home Norma was living. She wanted to see the home, but not her mother. It was not until her mother was dying in hospice that the author and her sister finally came to spend time during their mother's last days.

    This book, although very well written, was more like a novel. I did not need a history lesson of the different places Mira went to live. The book brought tears to my eyes of how selfish and self-centered two daughters can be and how they can toss their mother aside when she so desperately needed moral and physical support.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2012

    Good not great

    I feel like it was a good story line just not as well written as it could have been. Still good though

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  • Posted December 7, 2011

    A nightmare experience imposed on the innocent.

    This is a disturbing story of the wreckage mental illness has on the lives involved. The emotional toll that this family experiences is frightening. There is no help or hope for those exposed and the emotional damages are permanent. A mother and two little girls walk through a nightmare called life.

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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    Recommend

    Very intense, brought back some memories of my own.

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