The Vintage Book of Amnesia: An Anthology of Writing on the Subject of Memory Loss Second Edition Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0375706615
ISBN-10: 0375706615
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Amnesia is an illusive subject that many artists have pursued, particularly literary artists. And like most things hard to get, its suitors are legion. Haruki Murakami's "The Fall of the Roman Empire, the 1881 Indian Uprising, Hitler's Invasion of Poland, and the Realm of Raging Winds" exhibits the utterly evasive nature of memory and is emblematic of the razor wit of these contributors. Lethem has mined a rich field for this splendid collection of short stories and turned up such authors as Julio Cortazar, Jorge Luis Borges, Philip K. Dick, Martin Amis, Oliver Sacks, Shirley Jackson, Walker Percy, Thomas M. Disch, and Vladimir Nabokov. They're all winners. Bonnie Smothers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From the Inside Flap

Jonathan Lethem is perhaps our most active literary voice mining the genre margins of our culture.  In this unique collection he creates an anthology that no one else could.  He draws on the work of such unforgettables as Julio Cortazar, who presents a man caught between the ancient and modern worlds unable to say which is real; Philip K. Dick, who tells the story of a man trapped on a spaceship of the somnolent, unable to sleep and slowly losing his mind; Shirley Jackson, who takes us on a nightmarish trip across town with a young secretary; and Oliver Sacks, who presents us with an aging hippie who possesses no memory of anything that has taken place since the early seventies.

What Lethem has done is nothing less than define a new genre of literature-the amnesia story-and in the process he invites us to sit down, pick up the book, and begin to forget.

Also including: John Franklin Bardin, Donald Barthelme, Thomas M. Disch, Karn Joy Fowler, David Grand, Anna Kavan, Haruki Murakami, Flann O'Brien, Edmund White, and many others.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Second Edition edition (October 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375706615
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375706615
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,243,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
A terrific concept brilliantly executed. The editor has gathered a superb collection of stories and essays that address, directly or otherwise, the subject of memory loss. What is memory? What does it mean to remember, and why does it matter? These are only a few of the questions that are explored from many different perspectives by Martin Amis, Oliver Sacks, Vladimir Nabokov, Philip K. Dick, and many other distinguished writers. This is one book you won't soon forget!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jens Alfke on July 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
The theme is right up my alley and Lethem is one of my favorite authors. Nevertheless I found the book frustrating, because many of the pieces are excerpts from novels and show it, with abrupt endings that don't resolve anything. I'm grateful for having the chance to get tastes of these (mostly obscure) books, but it detracts from the anthology itself. Nevertheless, thanks to this I've already discovered, purchased and read two excellent novels I'd never heard of before -- Lawrence Shainberg's "Memories Of Amnesia" (first person view of eminent neurologist's mental collapse) and John Franklin Bardin's "The Deadly Percheron" (weirdo '40s noir) -- and in between enjoyed some old classics I hadn't re-read in a while, such as Philip K Dick's terrifying SF short story "I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon".
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Dignazio on June 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
While this book contains many wonderful short stories, it fails at being a cohesive anthology. Editor Lethem has broadly defined 'amnesia' define anything related to the doubt of one's mental state or existence. That's wide net, and the resulting catch is eclectic and disjointed.
I also have a problem with the excerpts from full novels. Although many stand well on their own, I always feel as if I'm not getting the full point. Once I was halfway through I began skipping the excerpts and focused on the complete short stories.
But as I said, there are many gems here. Particulary the Borges, Lethem, and Sacks stories stand out. If you read this with the understanding that most of the stories have nothing to do with the common perception of amnesia, it may be well worth your time.
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By Blusuede on January 22, 2013
Format: Paperback
As others have commented, this collection is uneven but Lethem has done an admirable job in assembling a diverse collection of modern authors, mainly in the realm of fiction. Unfortunately, some of the approaches and themes are repetitious, leading one to confuse many of the plots with each other (how many times must a man wake up and wonder where he is and why he has no memory of his past?). However, some stand-out pieces from JL Borges, LJ Davis, Philip K Dick, Julio Cortazar and Robert Sheckley demonstrate that a simple theme can lead to surprisingly disparate approaches. Overall a worthwhile purchase for the 400 pages of mind-bending literature it contains.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Myers on June 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
Are you worried that coughing up the bucks for an anthology will leave you with two or three gem stories and a pile of duds? Well don't worry this time, kids, Lethem delivers the goods. At least eight solid keepers in this one that I will certainly read again at some point. Overall, the theme works very well, and the variety of experiences (from creepy to wacky) is pretty wide. It's not all bumps on the head, waking up in white-walled rooms...
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