The Amnesiac

The Amnesiac

3.4 7
by Sam Taylor
     
 

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A gripping literary thriller from an exciting new voice in fiction Hailed as “one to watch ” by the UK’s Telegraph, Sam Taylor is one of the most imaginative and innovative young writers at work today. With The Amnesiac, his United States debut, he incorporates a murder mystery and a forgotten manuscript into an exhilarating and intelligent novel.… See more details below

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Overview

A gripping literary thriller from an exciting new voice in fiction Hailed as “one to watch ” by the UK’s Telegraph, Sam Taylor is one of the most imaginative and innovative young writers at work today. With The Amnesiac, his United States debut, he incorporates a murder mystery and a forgotten manuscript into an exhilarating and intelligent novel. When twenty-nine-year-old James Purdew returns to England from his home in Amsterdam, it is to discover what happened during three earlier years of his life that he cannot recall. What he finds, in an old house with a tragic history, is a nineteenth-century manuscript that begins to seem less and less like a work of fiction—and more like the key to his own lost past. Memory and amnesia, fiction and reality, destiny and randomness, heaven and hell—all converge to form an engrossing gothic story that is sure to appeal to fans of Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind.

Editorial Reviews

Telegraph (UK)
Illusory and transfixing . . . a tender triumph.
Observer (UK)
An accomplished and entertaining read.
Sunday Express (London)
A clever, beautifully written examination of memory and the tricks it can play.
Publishers Weekly

British author Taylor (The Republic of Trees) makes his U.S. debut with a complex work of metafiction that will resonate with Jorge Luis Borges fans. James Purdew, a 30-year-old unemployed Englishman living in Amsterdam, suffers an identity crisis after tripping on the stairs to the apartment he shares with his Dutch girlfriend, Ingrid, and breaking his ankle. After Ingrid leaves him, Purdew rereads his journals and decides to write his life story backwards, beginning with Ingrid. He believes the project, titled Memoirs of an Amnesiac, will help him find his "way out of the labyrinth." To complicate matters, after returning to the U.K. and finding work in construction, Purdew discovers a 19th-century manuscript titled Confessions of a Killer hidden in a wall of a flat he's renovating. A fine stylist, Taylor keeps a lot of balls in the air, but all the philosophizing tends to slow a narrative that offers plenty of mystery but not enough resolution. (July)

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Kirkus Reviews
Taylor (The Republic of Trees, 2005, etc.) explores the complexities and meaning of memory in this psychological thriller. When James Purdew breaks his leg in an accident, he is laid up for weeks-enough down time to begin thinking about his past and reconsidering his present. James is obsessed with three years of his life he cannot remember. Determined to fill these gaps in memory that increasingly disturb him, he breaks up with his Dutch girlfriend and moves back to his college town in England. There, he begins work repairing an old student house for an anonymous landlord and becomes deeply involved in the search for his own past. As he peels paint from the walls, he continually discovers missing links to his past-a discarded manuscript, a song in his head, a disarming roommate-and the mysterious source of his current anguish begins to reveal itself. The story is slow to get going, but it becomes thoroughly engrossing throughout the middle sections. The denouement borrows heavily from the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges (the book opens with a Borges quote and references him ad nauseam) and films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and it unfortunately feels rather unoriginal, despite the labyrinthine construction. James is too plodding to be truly engaging, but perhaps this is because he is not meant to be his own character, but rather to represent universal man struggling with existential concerns. Part murder mystery, the story delves into the abyss of human memory and explores heaven and hell, as well as hope and fear, as two sides of the same coin. An emulous theme wrapped in a lumbering package. Agent: Jason Cooper/Faber UK

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781440635724
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/24/2008
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
1,228,558
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

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