The Memory Artists by Jeffrey Moore

#24 in my book challenge for the year was The Memory Artists by Jeffrey Moore. This is not an easy book to summarize succinctly. The main character is Noel, a synesthete and hypermnesiac. His mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, and three friends are the other neurological misfits who surround him. The entire story is supposedly written by a third party (Moore) and edited by a fictional neurologist, Emile Vorta, whose self-congratulatory views are related through an often hilarious set of endnotes. The narrative switches between first-person diary entries and third person. The font switches to emphasize this, though I don’t think the visual cue is necessary, except in the few instances that it happens within one chapter. One chapter is a discussion between Noel and another character about the details of synesthesia. The information is necessary, but I find dialogue an awkward way to convey a lot of factual information. The neurological conditions are fascinating, as are the insights into Noel’s kaleidoscopic mindworks. The humor is clever and dark. The structure of the book is complex but serves the story. The mother’s decline, told by Noel and though her own diary, is tragic. I found all the characters engaging, but I felt the males were more thickly characterized than the females. But the strength of this novel lies most in the emotional interactions of its characters. The characters all cared about, and for, each other. That made it easy to care about them, and their fascinating stories.

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