Friday, August 28, 2009

When you just don't remember

I started reading Gabrielle Zevin's Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac. I thought I was doing so off of a recommendation from Meg Cabot's blog, but after searching her blog for the post I guess maybe I didn't.

So I have no idea how I heard about it.

Just kidding. It was Michelle's blog. I remembered.

Anyway, it's an enjoyable read so far, but it also got me thinking. There's a lot of amnesia fiction and film out there, which is kinda funny considering how rare amnesia really is.

You've got the Bourne movies/books, showing how awkward it is to be with the CIA/contracted by the CIA (I don't remember how it actually went down. Ironically.) and lose your memory.

There's Garry Marshall's happily dippy Overboard, which shows that you do not want to tick off your contractor before losing your memory.

I would be remiss in not mentioning While You Were Sleeping, which has allegations of amnesia, if not the real thing.

In books, Sophie Kinsella's second-to-latest release involved amnesia, as well as Caprice Crane's Forget About it, in which the character fakes amnesia before hitting her head (again) and really complicating matters.

When I was in high school and reading a LOT of Christian fiction, there was Gilbert Morris's Through a Glass Darkly and Lorena McCourtney's Forgotten. Dee Henderson put a twist on standard amnesia using PTSD-related memory loss in Danger in the Shadows.

Releasing September 1st is my friend Christina Berry's first novel, The Familiar Stranger, which (I'm gathering from the synopsis, haven't actually read it yet) shows how memory issues can help you work through marital issues.

And on TV there was Samantha Who?, at least until ABC sadly pulled it.

So no matter where you looked, someone forgot something.

I think the appeal of amnesia is the idea of a fresh start. No memories clogging your perception of who you've become, but a clear path to be the person you should be. That person is usually more likeable than the person we heard about before the blow to the head/car accident/gunshot wound/explosion.

(Ironically, as Robert H. Schmerling, M.D, points out, if you have amnesia, you probably have a brain injury such as bleeding or swelling, so really the memory loss is the least of your worries.)

While on one hand the idea of blanking out on parts of middle school and high school hold a certain appeal, aren't they a part of what makes us who we are? There's a self-loathing streak to amnesia stories - in Bourne especially.

Either way, I do enjoy amnesia-fiction. I suppose the lesson is to try to make good choices the first time - before the blow to the head.


  1. Hey, thanks for the link! Oh how lovely it would be to be mistaken for Meg Cabot for real. She's a genius.

    Also, love Overboard. Watch it everytime it's on TV.

  2. Didn't think you would mind much :-) You both blog about YA fiction, so it's not a huge stretch.


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