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Confessions of a Memory Eater
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2006
I just found out about Pagan Kennedy's new book when I read the great review it received in Entertainment Weekly. The review was right, Confessions of a Memory Eater is a real page turner that is actually about something of substance. It is about more than just our memory alone but really about how we view and understand our lives, the expectations of our younger selves and the reality of where we are later in life. The story of Win Duncan's drug experience is really the story of so many of us who reach that age where we look back and say, "what happened? what went wrong? what went right? and if only I could sleep with that woman again!" And with all that, it's just a great read, I actually did read part of it on the beach, perfect summer book. Kennedy is simply one of the best contemporary American writers. I highly recommend it and wish more people were reading work from writers like her rather than a lot of the formulaic fiction churned out year after year.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2006
Kennedy's characters remind us of ourselves, finding their way to the other side of loss and longing. In these dark times of war, her novel reminds us that thoughtfulness and human connection, above all, can save us. CONFESSIONS is a fun read and an engaging story about the past and present. So engaged was I in Win's journey, I couldn't put the book down until I had finished! Definitely a book with--and about--substance(s).
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2006
Seriously, this is the fourth of her books I have read and I did it in one sitting. De Quincy gets a much needed update, the story itself is such a cool idea. Her last book, Black Livingstone, is just as good as this one, and it is non-fiction! Confessions of a Memory Eater is as good as her novel The Exes which was funny and bold at the same time. I'm telling you, there are probably not three other American woman writers who have written this many good books. Kennedy writes urgent books with complete characters. Save the Joyce Carol Oates for when you retire.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2007
By the end of the very first page I was completely captivated by the premise. The lead character, Win Duncan, is a tragic hero that travels a journey of addiction which is completely relateable due to the very nature of the addictive substance - who wouldn't be tempted to travel one more time into the very best memories of their lives. Pagan Kennedy is a fascinating writer. I think that we will be hearing a lot more from this talent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Is Pagan Kennedy's "Confessions of a Memory Eater" a work of literature or a trashy novel? Can it be both? First, don't expect realistic dialogue in it. Ms. Kennedy is no Elmo Leonard. Nor do we find memorable characters or much suspense. She's no Michael Connelly either. Instead, the style vaguely mimics Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas de Quincey, although it's strangely reminiscent of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, too.

What the novel does have to recommend it is its depiction of drug use, and one suspects that Ms. Kennedy may have some close experience with this. I haven't read any of the many confessional books where some liar tells how his life was ruined by dope, nor do I intend to, but this book gets the feeling of addiction spot on.

The novel's description of a fabulous new drug called Memory, or Mem, is not spectacular, but it must be realized that drug addicts and alcoholics do not crave any substance to get high, they take the drug to feel normal. A junky craves a "fix" -- fix, as in repair or correct -- and obtaining one is ironically called "getting straight." (I once heard a story from an ex-cop about his first day on the job. He was paired with a veteran who, once they left the station, had the rookie drive to a certain tavern. The old cop's hands were trembling violently, and as soon as they walked in, the bartender set up three shot glasses and filled each with whiskey. The veteran cop quickly downed each shot, and after that he was o.k.)

Obviously, no prescription medication allowed to be marketed will produce euphoria (many antidepressants have awful side effects), yet according to a recent report in Fortune, in 2010, there were 254 million prescriptions filled for opioid painkillers. There's no *high,* yet there're millions of addicts. "Mem" only enables one to recall fond memories vividly, and the scenes in the book depicting the drug's effects aren't very striking or even interesting, but the tale of craving is realistic. Near the conclusion, the protagonist says, "I think that's why I want the drug too. Why it's had such a hold on me. When I'm on it, it seems to restore my dignity." That's drug addiction in a nutshell.

It should be apparent that this is not some techno-thriller (although the character of the sinister Litminov is straight out of Dan Brown and drags the book down), but instead, it's an allegory of America's drug addiction. It offers no solution, and the end sort of bleakly fizzles out. But it gets the story of addiction right.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2007
I just finished this book (bought for me by my wife). The more I got into it, the more involved I became. I was quickly caught up by the premise but also deeply involved with the lives of Win and Edie as they floundered through their careers and marriage. Neither of them were particularly sympathetc or likeable but they were believable and a little sad. Not to give any hint abou the ending but I saw it as Win starting the same ill-fated journey again. Hopefully, my wife will buy me Kenndy's next fiction effort.
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7 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2006
...so I can forget I read this book. Look, I read Kenney's "Zine" back in high school, riot grrrl, Sassy, rah rah rah. Even back then I thought she was rather over-hyped. I check out her Platforms book about the 70s, a rather throway book suitable for bathroom flip-paging and often found in bargain tables in small college towns cross America. I read the Exes and I honestly just remember reading it and thinking the whole time "This is it?". I remember it as too short and not worth my time. I check out her recent work on Livingstone (sp?) and couldn't get past the first EIGHTEEN pages. I flipped through her Hipster guide in a bookstore and couldn't even bother to read a chapter. So WHY do I keep trying to read her? People like her SO much. She is supposed to be a voice of my generation. It looked interesting enough. But by the first twenty pages, I regretted trying her again. Yes, I read the book in one sitting-b/c I just wante dto say I read a whole book by her. Her characters are simply not fleshed out at all, stereo-typical, trite, she cannot write dialogue, and their transformations are unbelievable. Her plot lines are thin and you can see what is going to happen chapters in advance. The pacing of the "plot" rushes then gets theoritical. The narrator is supposed to be a male academic genius-and I never once like him nor believe him what-so-ever. I give stars for the IDEA of this book-a pill that puts you back in the body of your memory self, very intense, very Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in reverse. In better hands, this could work. But her writing is so choppy and overly descriptive and thin, I just cannot in good faith recommend this book.
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