If you want to know someone, you ask them stories of their past. You ask them of their mother and their father, discover their worst memories and their best. The power of this thing, of memory, is just that; it defines you. Without it, you can become lost in all of the definitions others place upon you, and in all those you place upon yourself – and what is left of you then? Can you see your grandparents’ faces reflected in your own, if you’ve lost all the memories that tell you who they were?
Watch a woman wake and grasp at some sense of herself, claw at the edges of her mind for a name and for the face of the person that once lay beside her. Anthony Doerr travels this crumbling terrain of fading memory, of lost names and flooded homes, and finds in it the footprints of children, the act of discovery that makes the world brand new, and reminds us that memories, just as they are lost, are constantly created.
As Dave Eggers observes, “Doerr has set a new standard for what a story can do”. Each of the short stories in Memory Wall have a strength and freshness of perspective that allow the reader to consider memory anew, and in that act, to reconsider themselves.