The Memory Artist

Thoughts about The Memory Artist by Katherine Brabon

A glorious book about writing and memory and the Soviet Union and glasnost and Russia…

A period that I almost didn’t want to think about because of my own activist background… as if somehow I had personally been betrayed by Stalin and the Soviet Union.

The Memory Artist is a gentle, beautifully written novel that carries the reader along, not allowing the reader to fall into the depths of despair despite murders, disappearances and suicides.

Some quotes:

“There’s a moment, I’m not sure how long, one of those never-ending seconds, and whichever hour it is or whatever station I’m in, the words and numbers have no meaning. Then I think of somewhere I’m supposed to be or the next thing I have to do. I cling to those things, and I find myself again. ” p. 213

“I can attest that I’m here, as a man, with a body right now sitting on this seat, but I cannot say I am sure what I’m made up of – what is going on inside. ” p. 222

“Our inner life, consciousness or whatever, made the apartment a place where that manipulated and censored world couldn’t get in.” p. 223

“Looking at those malformed statues, I told myself that if I could make some kind of shape out of the memories of the men and women of my life – then somehow, impossibly, the broken past could be given form. Not put back together so much as refashioned into a kind of warped, fragmented sculpture. But nonetheless it would be something that I could hold, at least in my mind.” p. 243