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The Vintage Book of Amnesia: An Anthology of Writing on the Subject of Memory Loss

Overview

Jonathan Lethem is perhaps our most active literary voice mining the genre margins of our culture.  In this unique collection he creates an anthology that no one else could.  He draws on the work of such unforgettables as Julio Cortazar, who presents a man caught between the ancient and modern worlds unable to say which is real; Philip K. Dick, who tells the story of a man trapped on a spaceship of the somnolent, unable to sleep and slowly losing his mind; Shirley Jackson, who takes us on a ...

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Overview

Jonathan Lethem is perhaps our most active literary voice mining the genre margins of our culture.  In this unique collection he creates an anthology that no one else could.  He draws on the work of such unforgettables as Julio Cortazar, who presents a man caught between the ancient and modern worlds unable to say which is real; Philip K. Dick, who tells the story of a man trapped on a spaceship of the somnolent, unable to sleep and slowly losing his mind; Shirley Jackson, who takes us on a nightmarish trip across town with a young secretary; and Oliver Sacks, who presents us with an aging hippie who possesses no memory of anything that has taken place since the early seventies.

What Lethem has done is nothing less than define a new genre of literature-the amnesia story-and in the process he invites us to sit down, pick up the book, and begin to forget.

Also including: John Franklin Bardin, Donald Barthelme, Thomas M. Disch, Karn Joy Fowler, David Grand, Anna Kavan, Haruki Murakami, Flann O'Brien, Edmund White, and many others.

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Editorial Reviews

Valberg
Prepare to feel confused and disoriented through this romp through the woozy realm of forgetfulness...Here's a book you won't soon forget.
Entertainment Weekly
Kirkus Reviews
In a literary motherlode, Lethem redefines the classic amnesia story, once little more than getting a bump on the head—but not in the hands of these masters. These masters? Umm? Vladimir who??? Nabokov! Yes, of course. He wrote—he wrote—let's look it up. "That in Aleppo Once . . .," a title taken from Haml . . . uh, Othello. Perhaps we'd best just quote from Lethem's leadin where he compares modern authors handling amnesia to earlier talespinners: ". . . try imagining Emily Brontë [and Heathcliff on a bad day] if she'd scrutinized her characters with the neurological vocabulary available to writers like Philip K. Dick, Lawrence Shainberg, and Dennis Potter"—all included here. What's important to know is that amnesia is fiction: the amnesiac finds himself leading a fictional life! Remember that. Now hear this drumroll: Martin Amis, Shirley Jackson, Walker Percy, Jorge Luis Borges, Cornell Woolrich, Flann O'Brien, Edmund White, Oliver Sacks, Haruki Murakami, Anna Kavan, Thomas M. Disch, Donald Barthelme, Russel Hoban—and that's only half of them!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375706615
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Pages: 414
  • Sales rank: 1,423,085
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan  Lethem

Jonathan Lethem lives in Brooklyn, New York.  Motherless Brooklyn is coming from Vintage in Fall 2000.

Biography

The son of artists and activists, Jonathan Lethem has always been surrounded by art and archetypes. His father, avant-garde painter Richard Brown Lethem, ensured that the household was always bustling with fellow artists, live nude models, and a creative spirit. Despite the nurturing, artistic setting, Lethem's teen years were demanding -- his mother died of cancer when he was 14, and the streets of his Brooklyn neighborhood forced him to toughen up at a young age.

Lethem's Brooklyn is rich with history and stories. Much of the world knows Brooklyn through the movies and television -- as an urban maze just outside the glitter of Manhattan. But Lethem's novels deliver a more emotional and brutal reality of the streets he called home (and still does). The Brooklyn culture of his childhood became the sidewalk on which he built his critically acclaimed Motherless Brooklyn, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award.

Lethem attended the High School for Music and Art in NYC, where he studied painting but began to hone his love of literature. An insatiable reader, he read the classic and the contemporary, including Kerouac, Mailer, Vonnegut, Chandler, Dostoevsky, Orwell, and Kafka. While still in high school, he finished a 125-page novel called Heroes. It was never published but is rumored to be the earliest form of what became The Fortress of Solitude.

After high school, Lethem attended Bennington College in Vermont but dropped out after the first semester to work on his writing. He returned to Bennington briefly, but eventually made the move to California, hitchhiking his way across the country to arrive in Berkeley in 1984. This experience, and the years he spent in San Francisco, provided the inspiration for his first three novels, Amnesia Moon(1995), As She Climbed Across the Table (1997), and Girl in Landscape (1998).

In late 1996, Lethem moved back to Brooklyn and began writing the book that would put him on the lips of every publisher and reader in the country. When Motherless Brooklyn was released in 1999, readers fell in love with its fascinating lead characters, relentless plot, and detailed setting. It was an instant success and won many awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Lethem's long-awaited next novel, The Fortress of Solitude, hit the shelves four years later, in 2003. He conducted a lot of research for the book, gaining yet another perspective on his beloved hometown. The novel is again set in Brooklyn, on Dean Street, where Lethem grew up. Over three decades, the two lead characters -- Dylan and Mingus -- experience the world through the prisms of race relations, music, and pop culture in a disturbing and compelling story of loyalty and loss, vulnerability and superhero powers.

Outside of novels, Lethem has published short fiction and lent his editing talents to a number of projects. Odd and shocking, This Shape We're In (an extended short story) is about an unforgettable trip to the hospital. The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye is a collection of seven short stories about everything from clones to professional basketball. Lethem and coauthor Carter Scholz have fun with the master of the bizarre in Kafka Americana: Fiction, a book of short stories with Kafka as the main character navigating absurd situations. Lethem edited The Vintage Book of Amnesia, short stories about the art of forgetting by such authors as Philip K. Dick, Martin Amis, and Shirley Jackson. He was guest editor of The Year's Best Music Writing 2002, essays by writers on music.

Good To Know

Lethem's original artistic impulse was to be a painter. While he remains a talented graphic artist, he first acknowledged his deep desire to write while at Bennington, where fellow classmates included Bret Easton Ellis and Donna Tartt.

Before he was a published writer, Lethem's only other jobs were in bookstores. His first bookstore job was at age 13, and he supported himself this way up to 1994 when his first novel was published. In San Francisco, he worked at the well-known Moe's Books, home of rare and antique tomes.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Jonathan Allan Lethem (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      Left Bennington College after two years

Table of Contents

Introduction xiii
Dream Science 3
The Night Face Up 21
Other People 30
Nightmare 40
Memories of Amnesia 56
Warm 71
Soul Walker 81
Cowboys Don't Cry 93
The Second Coming 103
Funes, His Memory 119
The Black Curtain 127
The Third Policeman 141
Five Fucks 156
Forgetting Elena 176
Sarah Canary 184
The Last Hippie 196
Notes Toward a History of the Seventies 227
Ticket to Ride 237
The Fall of the Roman Empire, the 1881 Indian Uprising, Hitler's Invasion of Poland, and the Realm of Raging Winds 248
Geoffrey Sonnabend's Obliscence: Theories of Forgetting and the Problem of Matter--An Encapsulation 254
I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon 261
The Zebra-Struck 280
The Squirrel Cage 296
Louse 311
Game 321
The Affirmation 326
Kleinzeit 339
Days Between Stations 343
"That in Aleppo Once ..." 354
The Deadly Percheron 364
Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose 385
Bibliography 401
Contributors 405
Permissions Acknowledgments 411
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