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The Memory Palace by [Bartok, Mira]
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The Memory Palace Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 129 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • File Size: 4548 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (January 11, 2011)
  • Publication Date: January 11, 2011
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003UYUP80
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,471 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I don't particularly care for harrowing survivor memoirs from children of abusive or mentally ill family members. They almost always come off as sensational, blaming, or whining diatribes, and do we really need another one of those? The good news is The Memory Palace doesn't even come close to falling into that trap. Mira Bartok's story of her relationship with her schizophrenic mother who eventually becomes homeless is at once compelling, compassionate, and possesses some of the most beautiful and lyrical prose I've ever read in memoir. And did I mention it's also a page-turner? However, what really sets this book apart is how Bartok integrates her beautiful artwork into the structure of the book to help recall her past and to bring her authentic story to the page. The Memory Palace is essentially an illustrated memoir that details the incredible bond between mother and daughter, the issue of homelessness, and how we, as a nation, perceive mental illness and disability in our culture. It is a visceral and profound story, and is so much more than a blur of one sensational event after another. This is an artful memoir of an examined life, one that exudes strength, determination, and above all, love. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wish there were more stars to give this book. It is beautiful and heartwrenching. Through all the heartbreak, trauma, and pain, the love between Mira and her very ill mother prevails. I love that she tells her story in vignettes that include her experiences with travel, education,creative pursuits and other relationships. The artwork is breathtaking and enhances the storytelling perfectly. That she and her sister are able to come full circle and reconcile with their mother in her final days is a tribute to their resilience and unwavering love for each other.
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Format: Hardcover
Ms. Bartók's memoir is an intense revelation of love between mother and daughter that breaks the barriers of mental illness, isolation, desperate measures and accidental injuries. As I read this heart-rending biography I marvel at the survival of such love; loves come and go but one perseveres against all odds. Ms. Bartok travels frequently and these experiences are included with her more profound experiences regarding her mother. This book will appeal to anyone who has ever loved someone with a mental illness, or been separated for long periods from a parent. But a more universal appeal is also here, that of the girl in search of herself as well as her family. She is always ready to try new things, to make unusual efforts on her journey. A beautiful book.

Nadine Gallo
Hadley, Mass.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In 1968, I was married to a beautiful woman who was raised in a family with hidden histories of mental illness. To this day I do not understand all that happened within our own family as a consequence of my wife's schizophrenia, but Mira Bartok's book captured events parallel to those we endured. We had four children who had the greatest mother a child could ever have until her illness surfaced in 1981 and led to her leaving our family when the children were 3,7,10 and 11 years old. Hers was a religious and inaccessible delusion that God was calling her to leave her home and become a bag lady and a prophet to correct the abuses in the Roman Catholic Church.
Although we had family counseling, and the children were most successful in their academic careers, many of their fears and sufferings were never shared and continue to this day to affect their adult memory of their individual childhood experiences.
Last week, their mother told me for the first time in thirty years, what a fine father I had been to them and how sorry she was that she had caused us such trials. It was as if the clouds parted and the sun shone brilliantly through. Certainly, Ms. Bartok's memoire retold a similar revelation. There is hope and her own life and guilty feelings are not the conclusion. It is so helpful for those of us dealing with loved ones suffering from mental illness to hear Mira's story.
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Format: Hardcover
A man's work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened. Albert Camus

This is the second volume of anguish to come my way out of Cleveland, my home town, this year. The first was a marvel, from Jill Bialosky, History of a suicide: my sister's unfinished life.

That one came with the wallop of an atomic bomb. But it didn't prepare me for the hydrogen bomb follow-up (atomic bombs are merely the trigger for the 24x more powerful H-bomb) that came my way by an innocuous-seeming mention in the high school class newsletter of The Memory Palace by one Myra Bartok. What an innocent title, but the subject beckoned: a schizophrenic mother. Another author from my high school, I'll give it a look.

I started reading, and stopped breathing: Myra Bartok (a name she chose for herself taken from the famous Hungarian composer) and/or her writing is : Unrelenting, menacing, powerful, astonishing, raw, heartbreaking. Bialosky had stood me up with the left hand, and Bartok finished the fight with a right cross. Out cold.

Bialosky hailed from Shaker Heights, the tony east side suburb that proletarian west siders like us may never even see after a lifetime in Cleveland (though I left town at 17). Turns out Ms. Bartok grew up a mere four blocks from my house. I knew every reference to the local schools, and landmarks, first-hand, back-of-my-hand.

I finished the book, but still I wonder: how she could even function, let alone write a NY Times bestseller after her abusive childhood, abusive from every quarter, grandfather, grandmother, classmates, but especially her schizophrenic mother. It simply astonishes.
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