A Best Book of the Month at The Washington Post, Bustle, and Chicago Review of Books
MEM is a rare novel, a small book carrying very big ideas, the kind of story that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it.
Set in the glittering art deco world of a century ago, MEM makes one slight alteration to history: a scientist in Montreal discovers a method allowing people to have their memories extracted from their minds, whole and complete. The Mems exist as mirror-images of their source zombie-like creatures destined to experience that singular memory over and over, until they expire in the cavernous Vault where they are kept.
And then there is Dolores Extract #1, the first Mem capable of creating her own memories. An ageless beauty shrouded in mystery, she is allowed to live on her own, and create her own existence, until one day she is summoned back to the Vault. What happens next is a gorgeously rendered, heart-breaking novel in the vein of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.
Debut novelist Bethany Morrow has created an allegory for our own time, exploring profound questions of ownership, and how they relate to identity, memory and history, all in the shadows of Montreal’s now forgotten slave trade.
|Publisher:||The Unnamed Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
What People are Saying About This
"An extraordinary and utterly compelling novel that deftly explores questions of memory, identity, and humanity while also introducing one of my favourite characters in a long time. I loved everything about MEM." Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble
“The moment I opened Bethany C. Morrow’s thrilling and unsettling MEM, I could not stop turning the pages. Dolores Extract #1a "Mem"defies the rules of her world in a harrowing quest for autonomy and understanding. Her journey generates a deeply powerful inquiry into memory, trauma, ownership, and freedominto the very essence of what it means to be human. This gorgeously written novel is one of the most enthralling and original debuts I’ve read in years.” Laura van den Berg, author of Find Me
"In the world of Bethany C. Morrow's imaginative and gloriously written first novel, MEM, a memory might have a life of her own. This novel imagines an alternate past where memories can be extracted and turned to flesh, a premise that unfolds with intrigue and wisdom from this writer's fertile imagination. Don't miss this exciting debut that will change the way you think about memories." Tananarive Due, American Book Award and British Fantasy Award winner
“MEM is a mind bending exploration of what it means to be human. In this tight, gripping novel doctors have the ability to extract people's traumatic memories. These memories become people, sort of... Or maybe not. And what happens to the people who abuse the procedure? How do our memories shape our lives? MEM is a great read, especially for those interested in the ethics and strange reality of how new technologies impact the human condition.”
-Chris Morrow, Northshire Bookstore (Manchester Center, VT)
“Staged in an alternate possibility of the last century, MEM is the story of what could happen if we found a way to remove our bad memories and store them in a surrogate. Of course these surrogates would be kept in a vault and only brought out for special occasions, maybe to impress your friends at a cocktail party. But what if one of them – let’s call her Dolores Extract #1 – did not conform to the “rules” of the process. What if instead of only having one memory to live out over and over and over again, like a bad dream, waiting to waste away to nothing and then die, she was discovered to be able to make her own new memories. What then? Well, she might be removed from the vault and allowed to live a life, of sorts, under the watchful eye of the program’s staff. This is a searing tale of consequences. Of unexpected results to a science some might think has gone off the rails. But it’s also an insightful look into what makes us who we are and what happens when we can dispose of parts of ourselves we no longer want around to haunt us. I guarantee this is a book that will dig its way into your own memories and may well keep you up at night with thoughts you just can’t turn off. What a page-turner!”
-Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore (Spokane, WA)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A hypnotic exploration of memory, identity, and what it means to be human, MEM is a book you won't be able to put down, or forget once the last page has been turned. Elsie is a Mem, or extracted memory. Her own first memories are of a lab, where she proved to be exceptional among her fellow Mems. Eventually granted a tenuous sort of freedom, Elsie spends years living in 1920s Montreal, as an oddity and a celebrity, but always, first and foremost, as someone's property. But her recall to the lab after she's grown accustomed to independence throws everything about Elsie and her place in the world into question. This book is a rare treat--the sort of narrative that requires the reader to work to keep up with it. Past and present blur together and everything means *something*. Elsie's narrative voice is stand out--often clinical, due to her upbringing and background, it still shines with a capacity for wonder and Elsie's own unshakable sense of self. The nuanced exploration of what memories are and who we are without them, as well as what makes us human, never panders, never spares the reader's sensibilities, and never flinches from the truth. And the ending. OH, the ending. A perfect, beautiful, and devastating pay off caps this truly remarkable book. One character says of Elsie, "None of us will ever be free of you, even when we're gone," and when you've finished MEM, you're sure to feel the same way. I can't recommend this book highly enough.