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Memories of the Future

Memories of the Future

From the internationally bestselling, Man Booker Prize-longlisted Siri Hustvedt comes a provocative, exuberant novel about time, desire, memory and the imagination, which tells the story of a young Midwestern woman’s first year in New York in the late 1970s and her obsession with her mysterious neighbour, Lucy Brite.

As she listens to Lucy through the thin walls of her dilapidated building, S.H. transcribes her neighbour’s bizarre and increasingly ominous monologues in a notebook, along with sundry other adventures, until one night when Lucy bursts into her apartment to rescue S.H. from a frightening situation.

Forty years later, S.H., now a veteran author, discovers her old notebook along with drafts of a never-completed novel at her mother’s house. Ingeniously juxtaposing the various texts, S.H. measures what she remembers against what she wrote that year, creating a dialogue between selves across decades and reframing the past in the present.

Urgently paced, intellectually rigorous, poignant and often wildly funny, MEMORIES OF THE FUTURE brings together themes that have made Hustvedt among the most celebrated novelists working today: the fallibility of memory; gender mutability; the violence of patriarchy; the vagaries of perception; the ambiguous relation between sensation and thought, sanity and madness; and our dependence on primal drives such as sex, love, hunger, and rage.

(P)2019 Hodder & Stoughton Limited
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Genre: Fiction & Related Items / Modern & Contemporary Fiction (post C 1945)

On Sale: 19th March 2019

Price: £19.99

ISBN-13: 9781473694446

Reviews

This is playful, self-referential, cerebral stuff . . . [the] unlikely combination comes off marvellously, like a freewheeling doodle by an artist who has spent years perfecting their craft. The humorous, wise voice of SH holds everything lightly together with clever observations on writing, time and imagination.
Claire Lowdon, Sunday Times
Captivating, smart and witty
Hayley Thompson, Stylist
[Hustvedt] tackles misogyny, memory and the artistic process with provocative brio.
Independent/i
The reader has simply to play along, enjoying the deft and elegant writing while appreciating Hustvedt's timely exploration of questions about authenticity, memory and demarcations of literary genre . . . Writing with the swing and energy of a Parisian prose poet, Huswedt re-creates her younger self an eager New York City flâneuse . . . Gender politics is what gives this book its energy . . . She deftly masters postmodern fictional techniques while also tapping into the broader liberal humanist tradition and placing feminism in that context. She's a 21st-century Virginia Woolf, with many intellectual and creative rooms of her own - including a delightful talent for drawing cartoons, a host of which appear throughout her book.
Carol Rumens, Literary Review
Among the many riches of Siri Hustvedt's portrait of a young woman finding her way as an artist are her reflections on how acts of remembering, if they reach deep enough, can heal the broken present, as well as on the inherent uncanniness of feeling oneself brought into being by the writing hand. Her reflections are no less profound for being couched as philosophical comedy of a Shandean variety.
J. M. Coetzee
Hustvedt is that rarest of beasts: a deeply intellectual writer whose work is joyful and not intimidating in the slightest. This is terrific
Editor's Choice, The Bookseller
Like all the best postmodern novels, this metafictional investigation of time, memory, and the mutating self is as playful as it is serious.
Kirkus
Reading a Hustvedt novel is like consuming the best of David Lynch on repeat . . . [SH's] gauche girl detective persona conceals (of course) a formidable intellect roving among Hustvedt's favoured subjects of neuroscience, philosophy, literature and gender, and what is most interesting in the book is to see how that gradually assimilates with events around her . . . Ideas somersault nimbly in the novel as memoir jostles with memories . . . both SH and her creator appear, in this intense, high-spirited Bildungsroman, to have come full circle.
Catherine Taylor, Financial Times
Hustvedt deftly weaves and juxtaposes all these strands to explore the mechanics of story-making, the fallibility of memory, and the injustices of gender. She is absorbing, acute and frighteningly clever.
Ella Walker, Herald
[Hustvedt] writes beautifully on memory . . . And she captures the power of past narrative to shape a life to come . . . This is a book that merits rereading, not least because it's trying to build something new . . . Hustvedt's novelistic renovation is nostalgic and brave in equal measure. She's made just enough architectural moves to make you look at the space anew.
Sophie Ratcliffe, Daily Telegraph
Just as memory plays games with us, Hustvedt plays an exuberant game between it and fiction . . . There are lovely ironies and twists . . .it's under the control of a consummate intelligence. Hustvedt wears her erudition lightly and her cool intellect has a playful and warming passion. To experience her witty, speculative and incisive mind makes her book an unusual and great pleasure to read.
Anne Haverty, Irish Times
Various forms of detection, anchored to Hustvedt's deep knowledge of neuroscience and art, propel this rapier attack on sexism; this is a lusciously layered and suspenseful "portrait of the artist as a young woman," electric with wit, curiosity, and storytelling magic
Donna Seaman, Booklist
A clever, elegant novel
Good Housekeeping
Few contemporary writers are as satisfying and stimulating to read as Siri Hustvedt. Her sentences dance with the elation of a brilliant intellect romping through a playground of ideas, and her prose is just as lively when engaged in the development of characters and story. Her wonderful new novel is, among other things, a meditation on memory, selfhood and aging . . . an intricate, multiform text similar in its freewheeling, postmodern structure to Hustvedt's previous masterpiece, The Blazing World. . . how much of this is autobiographical doesn't matter. Any material drawn from the writer's life has been triumphantly transmuted into fiction that skillfully weaves disparate narrative strands into a vast tapestry encompassing personal, political and cultural struggle.
Wendy Smith, Washington Post
Memories of the Future is a portrait of the artist, certainly, and of New York in the 1970s, which Hustvedt joyously depicts as hot, dirty and cacophonous. But it's also far more than that. As layered as a millefeuille, as dense and knotted as tapestry, it feels, by the time you reach the final pages, less like a novel and more like an intellectual reckoning; an act of investigation into how, as a woman, it is possible to live well in the world, and enter effectively into the conversation about it. It's a mark of Hustvedt's thoroughgoing intelligence that the idea of investigation is another of the novel's explicit themes, as well as an aspect of its undertaking . . . [a] teasing, complex, disconcerting novel
Sarah Crown, Guardian
Provocative and mysterious, this fictionalised portrait of the author as a young woman is comic and sensual as well as thematically meaty, touching on memory, witchcraft and male violence.
Hephzibah Anderson, Mail on Sunday
Siri Hustvedt has never been afraid to go against the grain, and her seventh novel, Memories of the Future, confirms it. She has important things to say about sexual politics, capitalism and art . . . there is a great deal of transformative joy to be found in this story of a young woman arriving in New York to find her voice as a writer . . . Hustvedt brilliantly pinpoints how a woman might appear to willingly acquiesce to a man's demands to avoid a worse fate. She also skewers the guilt a woman might feel when she has escaped an assault.
Alex Peake-Tompkinson, Evening Standard
A multilayered portrait of the artist as a young woman . . . S. H. lays an array of selves, fictive and autobiographical, over each other like transparencies, to reveal deeper patterns. The fallibility of memory, madness and the artistic process are all incisively traced, but male entitlement emerges as the most insistent motif . . . Hustvedt has the imaginative mastery to encase complex ideas in the flesh and blood needed to render them visceral.
Benjamin Evans, Observer
Wise, graceful and often formidably bracing
Paul Connolly, Metro