The Memory Palace (Google eBook)

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Simon and Schuster, Jan 11, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 320 pages
28 Reviews
In the tradition of The Glass Castle, two sisters confront schizophrenia in this poignant literary memoir about family and mental illness. Through stunning prose and original art, The Memory Palace captures the love between mother and daughter, the complex meaning of truth, and family’s capacity for forgiveness

“People have abandoned their loved ones for much less than you’ve been through,” Mira Bartók is told at her mother’s memorial service. It is a poignant observation about the relationship between Mira, her sister, and their mentally ill mother. Before she was struck with schizophrenia at the age of nineteen, beautiful piano protégé Norma Herr had been the most vibrant personality in the room. She loved her daughters and did her best to raise them well, but as her mental state deteriorated, Norma spoke less about Chopin and more about Nazis and her fear that her daughters would be kidnapped, murdered, or raped.

When the girls left for college, the harassment escalated—Norma called them obsessively, appeared at their apartments or jobs, threatened to kill herself if they did not return home. After a traumatic encounter, Mira and her sister were left with no choice but to change their names and sever all contact with Norma in order to stay safe. But while Mira pursued her career as an artist—exploring the ancient romance of Florence, the eerie mysticism of northern Norway, and the raw desert of Israel—the haunting memories of her mother were never far away.

Then one day, a debilitating car accident changes Mira’s life forever. Struggling to recover from a traumatic brain injury, she was confronted with a need to recontextualize her life—she had to relearn how to paint, read, and interact with the outside world. In her search for a way back to her lost self, Mira reached out to the homeless shelter where she believed her mother was living and discovered that Norma was dying.

Mira and her sister traveled to Cleveland, where they shared an extraordinary reconciliation with their mother that none of them had thought possible. At the hospital, Mira discovered a set of keys that opened a storage unit Norma had been keeping for seventeen years. Filled with family photos, childhood toys, and ephemera from Norma’s life, the storage unit brought back a flood of previous memories that Mira had thought were lost to her forever.
  

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Poignant storytelling. - Goodreads
Insight and lyricism do. - Goodreads
Maybe her writing style just wasn't for me. - Goodreads

Review: The Memory Palace

User Review  - Sam - Goodreads

This was really a disappointment for me. I absolutely love memoirs and I have been reading them like crazy. I desperately wanted to like this book. Mira has obviously lived a very interesting life ... Read full review

Review: The Memory Palace

User Review  - Elizabeth - Goodreads

Edit :: 05/06/13 :: see comment #'s 9 & 10. This book was a bit of a let down. I wanted more details and less of the narrative. I still do not have an understanding of how Mira and her sister were ... Read full review

All 4 reviews »

Contents

The Subterranean World
3
Medusa
33
Passionflower
39
The Eye of Goya
60
Cave Girl
71
My Year with Audubon
84
The Vigilance of Dolphins
104
Changelings
115
Forgeries and Illuminations
164
A Hand and a Name
183
Rabbits
203
Oracle Bone
221
Palimpsest
243
In the Palace of Kalachakra
246
Into the Land of Birds and Fire
269
A Cabinet of Wonders
290

The Museum of Indelible Things
128
Death the Rider
141
The New World
161
Acknowledgments
303
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Mira Bartók is a Chicago-born artist and the author of twenty-eight books for children. Her writing has appeared in several literary journals and anthologies and has been noted in The Best American Essays series. She lives in Western Massachusetts, where she runs Mira’s List, a blog that helps artists find funding and residencies all over the world. The Memory Palace is Mira’s first book for adults. You can find her at TheMemoryPalace.com.

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