This year I promised myself to read more and try to write more in order to improve my english (since my husband refuses to correct me when I say something grammatically awful "Oh babe, but you're so cute... those are the things that make you you" Eric, if my grammar is the only thing that defines me I need to go kill myself! xD) I've challanged myself to read between 30 and 50 books this year and - if I keep doing what I'm doing - I think I can make it! I've even brought back to life my goodreaders account and I promise, it doesn't look like it but I read a lot in the past few years, I just kept forgetting to update my profile... (LINK if you're interested or you want to add me to check on me). So here I am now... Trying this new thing... Let's give it a go, shall we?
Man Walks Into a Room
Originally published: 2002
Author: Nicole Krauss
This is the story of Samson Greene, a 36 years old professor at Columbia University. One day Samson is found wandering around in the Nevada desert. He's been missing from home for 8 days and - when found by the police - he doesn't know who he is and where is he from. At the hospital the doctors find out he has a brain tumor, by removing the mass the doctors save his life but Samson loses 24 years of his life. The only memories he has are the ones he made during his childhood up to the age of 12. He doesn't remember his wife Anna, his friends, his dog, nothing and no one prior to when he was a teenager.
- He remembered these scenes clearly. At first they came to him one by one, small moments out of time like snapshots. Soon he began to string the individual memories together, but as he placed one after the next a wealth of new memories would well up between the two. Every day his childhool multiplied, grew more complex with the addition of shadows, objects, angles, expressions. ... He found he could run through the years then stop on a moment at random like a single image in a stereoscope. His bicycle leaning against the side o the house, a crown of rust around the bell, the rubber foot on the kickstand scratched from use. The wooden rungs of his jungle gym eaten green by rot, the drab canvas tent sagging under the weight of water. The covers of books he had read over and over with the crazed perseverance of a record-breaker.
His wife Anna brings him home, hoping he'll regain his memory eventually, even if the doctors said it's highly improbable. Samson's mind is not the mind of a child though, he's a intelligent sensitive man who's been set free from all that defined him.
Things don't go well with his wife, he struggles with the sense of guilt he feels towards her because - no matter how much she wants him to remember - he doesn't feel the loss of what he've lost and he doesn't have any interest in regaining his memories back. So, Samson moves into his life like a laef in the wind. His only friends are a former students of his and doctor Lavell. It's Doctor Lavell that puts Samson and Ray - another doctor friend of his - in contact. Ray is working on a project and he wants Samson to help him. Believing he has nothing left to lose, Samson decides to partecipate in Ray's experiment. The doctor wants to implant a memory into Samson's mind. A memory that belongs to someone else (Donald). When Samson accepts, he doesn't know what kind of memory he will receive so, when he wakes up with the memory of (what I think is) Operation Plumbbob, (a series of nuclear tests conducted between May 28 and October 7, 1957) (WIKIPEDIA) Samson regrets his decision and runs away. He goes through a lot of emotions and he starts a journey that will eventually reveal to him what it means to be human.
The book opens with the descripion of the memory that Samson will eventually receive and it ends with Anna's memories about a day with Samson before all of this happened.
- Later that afternoon we were lying in bed. We had just made love, him touching me as if he'd suddenly remembered that I existed and couldn't get enough. The way he looked at me, his eyes as blue as I'd seen them. I remember feeling then that I would forgive him anything. Afterward we were lying wrapped in the sheets. He was holding me, his face turned to the window, and neither one of us had to say that the moment possessed the indelible weight of beauty. He said he wouldn't mind always remembering this, lying with me and looking out at the lake. A wind had come up in the trees, and the branches were bending nervously.
Krauss touches, along the way, a lot of very delicate topics. The book is divided in 4 parts that function as 4 different stages in Samson's new life.
- First he loses his memory and decides that - even if it was possible - he doesn't want his life back. He does't miss it. (What if you wake up one day and all you knew was gone. Would you want your life back? Would you start over? Would you miss what you have lost if you didn't know what it was in the first place?)
- Then he "donates" his mind to Ray and his experiment. (What would you do if someone - in the name of a greater good, a way to be able to truly empathize with someone - asks you to accept into your own head a memory that belongs to someone else's? Would you do it? Would you donate one of your own?).
- In the third part he had to deal with the consequences of his decisions/actions and he gets in touch with his feelings. While at the beginning he doesn't seem to care about anything and he's not actually living but just let his life pass by, he now gets in touch with his emotions and the loneliness he feels and maybe even the injustice of the situation. He goes looking for his mother's grave to say goodbye (she died of cancer 5 years before his accident) but he doesn't know where she's resting, so he goes to his uncle Max, who's is in a old folks home, but Max doesn't remember him. Due to the lack of sleep and the sadness/frustration he remembers wher his mother is and he kidnaps his uncle because he wants to set him free. When they found the place Krauss describes an amazing scene that still gives me chills: Samson's mother has been cremated and burried under the magnolia tree, outside their old house (that now belongs to another family) Samson lays on the grass crying after burrying the slides of his brain tumor (that he "stole" from the hospital) next to his mother and their dog, while Max - remembering that when she was young Samson's mother was a tip tap dancer - starts singing New York, New York. Just beautiful!
- And in the fourth and last phase he accepts and understand what he has lost. He moves on with his life - as the rest of us - with his regrets.
An amazing story BEAUTIFULLY written and I wish my english was better to be able to give it justice. A must read!