PRAISE FOR THE STORY OF FORGETTING
"[An] emotional roller coaster of a novel ... ablaze with love and vitality"
"Concentrate now, savor the moment because this is a debut worth remembering."
"The imaginative process by which we discover new worlds and, in returning, get a clearer glimpse of our own has found a brilliant metaphor in this debut novel by the young American writer Stefan Merrill Block....The separate parts of The Story of Forgetting create a structure that brilliantly incarnates Block's big question: what is memory? As we rattle through, gripped by the painful but also upbeat stories of hunchback and boy, and enchanted by each glimpse of Isidora, plot and meaning rise up silently behind us like a series of islands in our wake. These islands, which bring the fragments of the novel together, are also the questions to which this author invites us to turn: what are our memories? Where do they go? How do they come back to us, and why?"
-- From Natalie Sandison, The Times(UK)
"I was blown away by Block's writing and by the idea of how we create the narratives of our lives out of the things we cannot leave behind, and the things we wish we could."
-- From Jodi Picoult, The Daily Beast
"**** (out of four). What The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time did for autism, Block’s multi-layered debut—about the importance, and pain, of memory—acheives for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease"
-- From People Magazine
"This assured and complex story is one of great sensitivity, awareness and beguiling experience... we receive a story that, like its characters, is difficult to predict at any point. And therein lies its essential vitality."
-- From Christopher Bantick, The Australian (AU)
Anita Sethi:"Extremely moving and very beautifully written."
Boyd Hilton: "Incredibly satisfying."
Lemn Sissay: "I really, really enjoyed this book."
--From BBC Book Panel with Simon Mayo (UK)
"Magical and Scientific. Block…is a talent to celebrate and remember."
-- From Bob Minzesheime, USA Today
"...compassionate, heartbreaking, funny and consistently engaging ... prodigious research... informs and enriches this story. Yet [Block] never permits that research to eclipse the storytelling skills on display in this accomplished first novel."
-- From Harvey Freedenberg, Book Page
"[An] astounding debut . . . a story that's compulsive and transporting."
"Using allegory and fable, two cleverly contrasting narrators and a dash of science, The Story of Forgetting is a memorable read... tenderly written"
"(A)...brilliantly audacious debut novel...A story that is ...filled with inventiveness and beauty. Block’s metaphors are particularly remarkable....A novelist faces a...balancing act: seal off your book too completely, and there’s no room for the reader to bring her own experiences to it; leave things too open-ended, and there’s no sense of gratification and resolve. Block negotiates this dilemma expertly, with a story of a unique condition -- the loss of memory -- which manages to seem both moving and universal."
"Blisteringly good ... The redemptive qualities of storytelling are gloriously displayed in this astonishing first novel, which confirms Block as a strong new talent."
"This intelligent, informed and compassionate book contains three stories in one, two interlocking tales of individuals dealing with extraordinary situations wrought by the disease in their family, common to both families, deftly woven into the narrative...The successful commingling of neurological data and artful storytelling makes for a compelling synthesis of science and literature...The evolving intracacies of these families are captivating, and as their mysteries become gradually disentagled, the book becomes hard to put down. No light summer fare, this complex work makes demands on the reader's attention, but is in the end highly rewarding."
"In using fiction to explore his personal fears, Block affirms that the novel can go deeper than the more straightforward, and probably lucrative, option of non-fiction misery literature... Block achieves more than sharing the pain with readers or begging for affection. His novel is a fascinating attempt to converse with Alzheimer's on his own terms, to accept the disease rather than feign a confrontation with it."
--From Alister McMillan, South China Morning Post (CN)
"...overflowing with meaning and vitality... ...a triumph of a novel...The Story of Forgetting is a book fizzing with creativity and ingenuity. Science and imagination unite to form a double helix of glorious finesse".
--From Charlie Lee-Potter, The Independent, Sunday Review (UK) (June 22, 2008)
"This is one of those rare works of near-genius... Block writes with the certainty and originality of a Nabokov or a Faulkner... A story about people, which is... touching, inventive and intelligent".
--From Virginia Ironside, The Independent (UK) (May 30, 2008)
"...compassionate, wildly inventive...Block has taken a bleak subject and fashioned a story of profound solace and charm."
"Full of an unexpected hope and optimism... the concept of 'a world alongside this one' of fairy-tale and fantasy as a means by which the innocent and suffering may escape from cruel reality is an intriguing one, explored with confidence and compassion"
"Author Stefan Merrill Block's first novel is a tour de force of interconnecting lives, complete with the history of a family curse, fables about a land of no remembrance and scientific studies on Alzheimer's disease...Abel and Seth are such fully-realized characters and their stories are so realistic that at times the reader can't help wondering how fictional they truly are. THE STORY OF FORGETTING is a marvelous and compelling read, filled with tragedy but also humor and hope --- and readers are sure to ponder the story long after they've finished it"
"The brilliance of 'The Story of Forgetting,' poetic and spiritual, is undeniable."
"Block weaves together his disparate narrative strands with a deft hand, tingeing his tale with a lovely touch of the fantastic."
"Block creates the kind of stark, realistic characters sure to prompt eager comparisons to the 'heavies' of American literature...[A] triumphant debut....matches emotion on the page with writers twice his age"
"The Story of Forgetting" is an engrossing, well-written exploration of what it means to remember -- and forget."
-- From Lisa McLendon, The Wichita Eagle
"...fast-moving and raw without being emotionally heavy-handed: Block's characters share despair through apathy and awkwardness, not fireworks... Block tells an emotionally demanding tale with honesty and charm."
-- From Nathan Heller, Slate Magazine
"The Story of Forgetting [is], well, unforgettable."
-- From Texas Monthly
"...what makes this novel special is Block’s grasp of the emotional devastation wrought by Alzheimer’s ... the melancholy that must accompany even the closest bonds once this disease has struck. A sensitive fictional interpretation of family tragedy."
--From Kirkus Review
"Mr. Block has made something very beautiful out of something very ugly"
"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
"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, National Book Award finalist