The Story of Forgetting: A Novel

By Stefan Merrill Block
Binding:Paperback
Publisher:Random House Trade Paperbacks, (4/7/2009)
Language:English



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Abel Haggard is an elderly hunchback who haunts the remnants of his family’s farm in the encroaching shadow of the Dallas suburbs, adrift in recollections of those he loved and lost long ago. Hundreds of miles to the south, in Austin, Seth Waller is a teenage “Master of Nothingness”—a prime specimen of that gangly breed of adolescent that vanishes in a puff of sarcasm at the slightest threat of human contact. When his mother is diagnosed with a rare disease, Seth sets out on a quest to find her lost relatives and uncover the truth of her genetic history. Though neither knows of the other’s existence, Abel and Seth are linked by a dual legacy: the disease that destroys the memories of those they love, and the story of Isidora—a land without memory where nothing is ever possessed, so nothing can be lost.

Blending myth, science, and dazzling storytelling, Stefan Merrill Block’s extraordinary first novel illuminates the hard-learned truth that only through the loss of what we consider precious can we understand the value of what remains.
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"The Story of Forgetting: A Novel"
By Stefan Merrill Block

Average Rating:

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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Told from two perspectives that are at once nearly polar and intimately linked, this astounding debut captures an air of the fantastical while presenting one family's heartfelt battle with Alzheimer's. Seth Waller is a 15-year-old Austin, Tex., science nerd determined to discover the reason behind his mother's recent mental breakdown. Abel Haggard, living on his family farm just past the Dallas suburbs, is an aging recluse roiled by memories of his one true love: Mae, his brother Paul's wife. The two had a torrid affair while Paul served in Korea, forcing Mae to conceal the paternity of her baby when she became pregnant. Both Seth and Abel speak of a fantasy land named Isidora, which exists outside of our physical world, but which becomes a common thread in piecing this delicately woven story together. Each character is a product of a different time and place, but as Seth delves deeper into his scientific investigation and Abel's troubled life is further revealed, the two stories meet in an emotional and memorable climax. Block displays an innate gift for developing believable characters each with his own distinct voice. The result is a story that's compulsive and transporting. (Apr.) 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition. 

Review
“A fresh, beguiling novel . . . as true to the anguish of [its] questions as it is ablaze with love and vitality.”—New York Times

The Story of Forgetting manages to feel big and small in perfect proportion, at once intimate and universal. Mr. Block has made something very beautiful out of something very ugly: a disease that steals people’s lives from them . . . It’s a book about love. ”—New York Observer

“Blisteringly good . . . The redemptive qualities of storytelling are gloriously displayed in this astonishing first novel.”—Financial Times, UK

“[An] astounding debut . . . compulsive and transporting.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Magical and scientific . . . [Block] is a talent to celebrate and remember.”—USA Today

“Savor the moment because this is a debut worth remembering.”—Alan Cheuse, contributor to NPR’s All Things Considered

“A deeply felt novel . . . The Story of Forgetting offers us both solace and illumination. Stefan Merrill Block possesses a singular mix of imagination, compassion, and scientific understanding; he is equally gifted at spinning fantastic tales as he is at bringing genetic histories to vivid life.”—Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of Madeleine Is Sleeping

“An exhilarating novel of formidable vision . . . At its center, an adolescent boy’s quest to solve the riddle of his family’s curse and an old man’s extraordinary tale of wrong love careen headlong toward each other with urgency and wonder. A magnificent debut.”
–Akhil Sharma, PEN/Hemingway Award-winning author of An Obedient Father

“Block weaves together his disparate narrative strands with a deft hand, tingeing his tale with a lovely touch of the fantastic.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Fast-moving and raw . . . [a] tale with honesty and charm.”—Slate

“Beautiful and uplifting . . . an engrossing, well-written exploration of what it means to remember–and forget.”—Wichita Eagle 

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Stefan Merrill Block was born in 1982 and grew up in Plano, Texas. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2004. The Story of Forgetting is his first novel. He lives in Brooklyn.


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