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The Business of Memory: The Art of Remembering in an Age of Forgetting (Graywolf Forum Three) Paperback – April 1, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-1555972875 ISBN-10: 155597287X Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press; 1st edition (April 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155597287X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555972875
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The "commodification" of personal memory as literary memoir in an age of computerized, artificial memory is Baxter's guiding theme in this collection of essays, the most recent entry in the Graywolf Forum series. Sylvia Watanabe, winner of a 1991 O. Henry Award, revisits in memory the Honolulu of her childhood and recalls the complicated poetry of insects' names learned from her father, an entomologist. Both Margot Livesey and James A. McPherson note St. Augustine's dictum that memory has more to do with soul than mind. Livesey's elegiac prose traces her search for her father in others' memories in hope of linking them to her own forgetfulness, for "what we do not remember, we are doomed to repeat." Patricia Hampl writes of sitting in a rocking boat on the Mississippi in sight of St. Paul, bemoaning that because "memory is a cheat," she has lost "quite a few people, not to death, but to writing" stories of her life that others read as "betrayals." Editor Baxter's staccato style cannot rescue his own essay from the burden of trying to communicate too much; in it, a recurring theme is of "information-poisoning" and crashing computer memories. Singly, these 13 essays are often engaging and occasionally quite inspired, but taken as a whole, the collection is disjointed and doesn't amount to more than the sum of its parts.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Several of the writers featured in these volumes make reference to the problem of memoirs in contemporary culture: their proliferation, the troubled skepticism about their value and meaning, and the disdain for their perceived narcissism. In different ways, these books explore those issues and embody the best that memoir can beAintelligent and perceptive reflection that looks both inward and outward. Edited by Baxter, a novelist and critic, the third volume in the provocative "Graywolf Forum" series offers timely insights into the place of memory and memoir in contemporary society. In his introduction, Baxter identifies the unifying theme of the essays as a dual anxiety about the public and the private and what he calls "the effect of memory's peculiar privacy." These are self-conscious and beautifully written essays that deftly explore the act of memoir-making and the art of storytelling. Ranging from tales of trauma and loss to quotidian and even banal events, they probe the tension between memory and forgetting and the mysteries of how we do each. In I Could Tell You Stories, award-winning writer Hampl collects 11 essays, eight previously published (and one of which appears in Baxter's volume). Here the pivotal theme is the fusion of the reader and writer at the heart of the writer's "communion of the word." In polished narratives rich with evocative detail and astute observations on reading and writing about other authorsAincluding Walt Whitman, St. Augustine, Franz Kafka, Sylvia Plath, and Czeslaw MiloszAHampl achieves what she praises Whitman for, placing herself "between the personal and the impersonal." In so doing, she offers fresh perspectives on memory, writing, and literature. Both books are recommended for academic and public libraries.AJulia Burch, Cambridge, MA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jim Van Buskirk on February 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
I stumbled serendipitously on this splendid title in which a variety of authors investigate their personal relationship to memory, the mind, and memoir as literary form. The essays eventually echo and ricochet off one another as they explore this fascinating terrain. Highly recommended!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jay on August 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
What an immense pleasure! Each of the essays is exquisitely written, and if the reflections of remembering and forgetting don't evoke a torrent of emotions, pinch yourself to see if you're still alive. This book is a must read; a great gift!
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