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The Perpetual Now: A Story of Amnesia, Memory, and Love Hardcover – February 7, 2017
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"A well-researched, engaging and accessible combination of brain science an biography... Lemonick brilliantly employs this lens, placing Lonni Sue’s story in a personal and scientific context that keeps the reader engaged throughout...At once smart and approachable, The Perpetual Now is an inspiring story of human resilience and scientific progress, a reminder that great triumphs are often borne of great tragedies. Expect an education in memory research, but also expect a gorgeous and memorable testament to the fact that we are far more than our memories."
--The Huffington Post
"Through sharing Johnson’s compelling story, Lemonick delivers a fascinating lesson that deepens our appreciation for our own memories."
"Lemonick does an excellent job of explaining why Lonni Sue's 'enormous storehouse of knowledge' regarding visual art, music and aviation made her an especially rich research subject...[A] very diligent reporter...the story of Lonni Sue, one of the great experiments of nature, is intrinsically fascinating."
"Watching Lonni Sue and her family reconstruct her life under nearly impossible circumstances is an enthralling story of patience, determination and love, and the bonus is that it's also a window into the emerging science of how the brain makes, stores and recalls memories. You'll never think about your own brain in the same way again."
--Dan Fagin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Tom's River
"The Perpetual Now is a fascinating and artful book that takes us deep into the most mysterious labyrinth in nature, the human brain. We meet Lonni Sue Johnson, an artist with profound amnesia, who lost her ability to form or recall memories, and we meet Johnson’s loving family and the scientists who have studied brain for many years, probing the mystery of memory."
--Richard Preston, New York Times bestselling author of The Hot Zone and The Wild Trees
About the Author
MICHAEL D. LEMONICK is the Opinion Editor at Scientific American. He has written more than 50 Time magazine cover stories on science, and has written for National Geographic, The New Yorker and other publications. This is his seventh book.
Top customer reviews
I was glad that Lemonick gave the movie "Mememto" some props for being sort of accurate. I thought it did a good job of replicating that sense of disassociation someone with this amnesia would feel.
The story of Lonni Johnson is heartbreaking - but on the other hand, she barely knows her problem. It's more the heartbreak to everyone around her, who have lost that connection. There were times when her pre-amnesia biography slowed the book down, but this biography was important so the reader would care about Johnson in the story, and on that, it succeeded.
For me, the book was interesting examination of the importance of memory, how we're fooled by it, how we pick them up, and those strange times when we lose them. For me, I have many "flashbulb memories," but I also have strong memories that I KNOW are false - my subconscious is telling me I remembered something that my conscious knows I did not experience in the way I "remember." So memory is a very slippery thing.
One of Lemonick's other examples showed how disorienting this condition is - the journal entries he kept are "woke up." "now I really woke up." "okay, woke up for real this time," etc. It's like every moment of lucidity is when life REALLY began. Or Lonni constantly making puzzles - it;s because her brain is saying "it's puzzle time," but never remembers that "puzzle time" should be over. And yet, she can carry on a normal conversation (in a way) because this isn't dementia.
The science of where and how our memories come from and are stored was pretty interesting - I think a lot of it was over my head, but I can still grasp a lot of the explanations of the way our brain works. So much has to go RIGHT, for us to just get through each day!
Very strange story, very compelling and well told. Think about this, maybe you've got this condition, and your reading this in a place where people care for you, and all your memories are just a damaged brain filling in blanks anyway it can - but none of this really happened. Your brain has created a dream to deal with the damage. How would you know?
I though the medical aspects and the discussion of memory and its importance were interesting. I live near that area in upstate New York and that portion resonated. Unfortunately Lonni Sue herself was not all that interesting, before, during or after. The book is about her dedicated friends and family who anguish over her condition. Lonni Sue,of course, remembers nothing. It is thought provoking. I wondered whether having no memory would in fact liberate this woman. It seems that it has not. She and her circle of care givers maintain a routine, a rather boring one at that. The circle is mourning her condition while Lonni Sue is unaware and doesn't really seem to care about much. It seems her brain has not developed alternate pathways and unless and until it does she will have no escape. Sad book, a bi too long and dull.