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Memento Mori Audio, Cassette – Unabridged, September 1, 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Spark spikes the Geritol of a group of London senior citizens, who begin receiving anonymous phone calls reminding them that death is coming. These seemingly sweet old people, evidently, have some fairly dark pasts. Add in a dash of blackmail and a pinch of adultery, and you have some good, not-so-clean fun.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

She had been a starving writer and editor in the classic style when success bonked her on the head in the late fifties...with Memento Mori, a complex, beautiful, and terrifyingly insightful novel about old age, which Graham Greene claimed 'has delighted me as much as any novel that I have read since the war.' [Her oeuvre] now makes up one of the most trenchant and accomplished bodies of literary work since the Second World War. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks; Unabridged edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786123958
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786123957
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,544,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Muriel Spark is, as always, deliciously sharp, witty, entertaining, and terrifying. Here a mysterious voice (God? Death? the author?) admonishes a set of alternately charming and despicable souls: "Remember, you must die." Spark is a better novelist than Evelyn Waugh because, while Waugh is often more riotously funny than the ever-subtle Spark, Waugh focuses more on the foibles of the moment--some of his characters will be (though still entertaining) "dated" by the middle of the next century, one suspects. Spark, however, through her tiny intrustions into fictional reality (the voices here, the typewriter in THE COMFORTERS, etc.) enlarges her scope--so long as people die and don't want to think about that fact, MOMENTO MORI will be on target. It is curious that it is the women--Flannery O'Connor and Muriel Spark--who are strong enough to emphasize in the theology of their fiction the "terrible swiftness of mercy," the sheer audacity of the Holy Spirit, as it were. Spark is not only one of the best novelists of our century--she is very likely the most economical. MOMENTO MORI is one of her best. Spark says more in a little over 200 pages than many novelists manage to say in a lifetime of long novels.
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Format: Paperback
Memento Mori--"Remember you must die"--is the persistent message that intrudes itself into the characters here, a collection of very elderly Englishmen and women of the mid-1950's. Don't be put off by the message, although most of the characters are. This is not a gruesome book. It is a humane, gently hilarious and deadly accurate depiction of what happens to people as they reach and live in old age. The message is a foil for the author's revelation of the individual natures of her characters.
I was amazed that I laughed out loud at several points, so acute are Ms. Spark's observations. If you have known very old people or are one yourself, at least one who has a sense of humor and irony, you can appreciate the universality of these people and their attitudes. The individual characters are bound to their own times and situations, youth in the high Victorian Empire and the years thereafter into the twilight of the post war traumas of diminished England. But I am certain that wherever you are, if you have known old people, and observed them interacting with each other, you will recognize Spark's cast of characters and their adventures. The loves and hates, successes and failures that marked their youth are all carried forward and nursed. People bide their time to avenge, in mundane and petty ways, the petty slights and bullying of their spouses and friends accumulated over a lifetime.
It all comes together memorably in a very readable way.
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By A Customer on September 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
Muriel Spark is a prolific writer. Her most famous and widely read book is probably "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie". But I wanted to savour something different of Spark's and decided on the highly recommmended "Momemto Mori", which is about a bunch of octegenarians being tormented by an anonymous caller. What reads like a typical detective story (Agatha Christie style) turns out to be a psycho thriller with a twist. A dead body does turn up eventually but not before we are nearly three-quarter way through and even then, the murderer's motive and identity are both inconsequential and summarily dismissed. By then, you get the distinct feeling that you have been led up the garden path and that the threatening anonymous caller is a mere (though brilliant) technical devise used by the author to draw to the open the secrets of past indiscretions committed by the book's senior citizen cast. The thought of these oldies fornicating like minxes in their youth is simply hilarious. As it turns out, the caller assumes a different voice for each victim of the hoax. It is this "voice of Death" that triggers off memories of past sins and indeed action on the part of the characters which moves this psycho thriller briskly along. Spark, writing with her usual charm and wit, deftly avoids the danger of the book becoming a "talkie" and for that, we are grateful. I finished the book in two days. It was a delight !
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Format: Paperback
The late Muriel Spark's crisply-written third novel and first genuine masterpiece, 'Memento Mori' (1959), would be followed by nineteen more, including additional bona fide classics 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' (1961), 'The Girls of Slender Means' (1963), 'The Driver's Seat' (1970), and 'Loitering With Intent' (1981) before her death in April of 2006.

Compared to these and other Spark fictions, however, 'Memento Mori' is remarkable for its essentially straightforward plot (a number of elderly lifelong friends and enemies are harassed by a mysterious telephone caller who states "remember you must die"), its relatively stable mid-Fifties London setting, and the depiction of its cast.

Unlike both earlier and later Spark novels, the characters presented are fairly unambiguous in terms of their natures: they're either essentially humane, decent, and humble, ethically and morally confused, or patently amoral. Thus, in terms of both characterization and the behavior that arises from it, 'Memento Mori' can be interpreted as a highly polished but basic blueprint for all of Spark's future fiction, in which cultured blackmailers, undetected maniacs, manipulative appropriators, and aggressive human parasites abound. In fact, the endlessly conniving, money-obsessed Mabel Pettigrew remains the quintessential Spark villain.

Like the best Spark's novels, 'Memento Mori' also seamlessly knits pronounced metaphysical questions into its text, and addresses the question of human perception and objective control: who or what ultimately manipulates and guides human existence?

As a meditation on human decency, morality, ethics, aging, and mortality, 'Memento Mori' doesn't overtly concern itself with the literal mystery presented by its plot.
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