The Memory Eaters

The Memory Eaters

by Elizabeth Kadetsky
The Memory Eaters

The Memory Eaters

by Elizabeth Kadetsky

Paperback(First Edition)

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On autopsy, the brain of an Alzheimer's patient can weigh as little as 30 percent of a healthy brain. The tissue grows porous. It is a sieve through which the past slips.

As her mother loses her grasp on their shared history, Elizabeth Kadetsky sifts through boxes of the snapshots, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, and notebooks that remain, hoping to uncover the memories that her mother is actively losing as her dementia progresses. These remnants offer the false yet beguiling suggestion that the past is easy to reconstruct—easy to hold.

At turns lyrical, poignant, and alluring, The Memory Eaters tells the story of a family's cyclical and intergenerational incidents of trauma, secret-keeping, and forgetting in the context of 1970s and 1980s New York City. Moving from her parents' divorce to her mother's career as a Seventh Avenue fashion model and from her sister's addiction and homelessness to her own experiences with therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, Kadetsky takes readers on a spiraling trip through memory, consciousness fractured by addiction and dementia, and a compulsion for the past salved by nostalgia.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781625345028
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date: 03/27/2020
Series: Juniper Prize for Creative Nonfiction
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

ELIZABETH KADETSKY is author of the memoir First There Is a Mountain, the short story collection The Poison that Purifies You, and the novella On the Island at the Center of the Center of the World. A professor of creative writing at Penn State and nonfiction editor at the New England Review, she is the recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Program, MacDowell Colony, and Vermont Studio Center.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

A Taxonomy of the Unknown 1

Modeling 17

Ghosts 21

Absences and Outages 43

The Memory Pavilion 63

The Oracle 85

Bombing the Ghost 99

Swerve 107

The Wallet Lady 131

Moths 135

Recovery 141

Meditations on Survival 151

A Room in the Memory Palace 171

What People are Saying About This

Paisley Rekdal

Kadetsky's nuanced essays explore the complicated contradictions inherent to memory, how memory holds us captive to our familial wounds, while at the same time helping us preserve the stories, and presences, of those we love.

Mira Bartok

At the heart of Elizabeth Kadetsky's exquisitely written memoir, The Memory Eaters, is a profound narrative about longing — longing for the past, for family, for home, for lost innocence, and for memory itself. Kadetsky deftly weaves her search for family secrets with stories about her own past trauma, her sister's addiction and homelessness, and her mother who was tragically struck down by early Alzheimer's. This is a powerful book, beautifully told.

Betsy Carter

She illuminates her battles with her mother's Alzheimer's, her sister's addiction, and family secrets with radiant insights and gorgeous writing. Ultimately, Kadetsky answers the question inherent in this memoir: Can we remake the past using the wisdom of the present? The Memory Eaters exquisitely answers that question in the affirmative.

Jeff Parker

The Memory Eaters functions as love letters to single mothers, to New York City of the '70s and '80s, to the fashion industry, to graffiti artists, and to Kadetsky's own mother, of course. And, like all the best love letters, it's simultaneously wistful and romantic and cutting and sublime.

Dinty W. Moore

In The Memory Eaters, Elizabeth Kadetsky carries us down 'the river of forgetfulness,' a journey that proves both brilliant and beautiful. The author's precise eye for detail, the lushness of her prose, her relentless and unflinching determination to comprehend a family's incalculable mysteries, shape a vividly unforgettable memoir of longing and discovery. This one will haunt me for some time.

Elyssa East

True to the mystical, fashion-model mother who inspired this dazzling memoir, The Memory Eaters honors the pain of losing a beloved family member to Alzheimer's while also placing the mystifying, if not liberating, self-revision the illness inspires in the larger context of myth-making that all families share.

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