Past Forgetting: My Memory Lost and Found

Front Cover
Harper Collins, Oct 6, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 288 pages

A love story, a mystery, and a memory guide, Past Forgetting shows a writer's determination to re-create her life.Jill Robinson, novelist and author of Bed/Time/Story, wakes from a coma to discover she's lost her memory and just about any sense of who she was.And is.

She likes the look of the man standing next to her bed, but doesn't recognize that he's her husband, Stuart. What matters is that she feels safe around him. As she searches the house for her children, she is reminded that her son and daughter are both grown with families of their own--how well did she ever know them? Can You make up for a past you don't really remember?

It is Stuart who begins to fill in the details for Jill, including the fact that she's a well-known writer, although when she meets with her doctors, they say she may never write again.

Against all odds, Jill Robinson retrieved her unique writing voice, and in this engaging memoir shows how she does it. She takes us with her on her exploration of'tlie connections between memory and creativity, celebrity and anonymity, and loss and discovery. From her first tentative steps outside her house on Wimpole Street to London's sleek West End. From a trip to Oxford to discuss memory with a professor to her amazing voyage to Los Angeles on an assignment for Vanity fair which takes her back to the sixties world of Hockney, Polanski, and Hopper, Jill forges new paths to memory.

In Past Forgetting, Jill Robinson rediscovers friendships she doesn't know she had: Robert Redford tells her stories about her childhood; at John Lahr's London literary teas, she's reintroduced to the writer's world, and Cary Grant offers her memories of her father, Dore Schary. And being with Barbra Streisand reminds her of a time she doesn't quite remember: when her father was running MGM.

In her urgent voyage to redefine herself, Jill asks all the questions you've ever asked on the nature of memory. Is recollection shadowed by emotion? Is memory an act of reinvention? Do people reinvent rather than recollect? In Past Forgetting you'll find the answers and you'll meet a writer you won't want to forget.


What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Jeffrey_Hatcher - LibraryThing

A must read for anyone who has sustained sudden amnesia from a prolonged seizure, trauma, and the like. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DrJane - LibraryThing

A tenderly-written and moving account of Jill Robinson's attempt to recreate her memory and her sense of self after suffering total amnesia. Read full review


Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 161 - For Yesterday is but a Dream, And Tomorrow is only a Vision; But Today well lived makes Every Yesterday a Dream of Happiness, And every Tomorrow a Vision of Hope.
Page vii - It seems to me that there is nothing which would stimulate a man's sense of responsibleness more than this maxim, which invites him to imagine first that the present is past and, second, that the past may yet be changed and amended. Such a precept confronts him with life's finiteness as well as the finality of what he makes out of both his life and himself.
Page vii - I'll see you again, Whenever Spring breaks through again; Time may lie heavy between, But what has been Is past forgetting. SARAH: This sweet memory, Across the years will come to me; Tho' my world may go awry, In my heart will ever lie, Just the echo of a sigh.
Page 121 - My father gently explained to me how important it is to separate what really happens from the story you write and to be careful with other people's real lives; to keep memory and storytelling on separate shelves in your mind, like reference books and novels.
Page 79 - Gloria was very wise," he's saying, "she said everything would work out fine so long as I understood that the book you are working on always comes first.
Page 25 - You don't forget that. We had that in common. A lot of people wind up loners, can't imagine finding someone to be with without drinking. You'd been hurt, so I was careful just to talk easily to you," he's holding my hand, "to let you know me, trust me.
Page 139 - If you're not with the one you love, you love the one you're with.
Page 126 - If you were old enough to drive, you were old enough to take care of yourself, was my idea — kind of a medieval concept of minimalist child care.

About the author (2009)

Jill Robinson has written nine books, including the bestsellers Perdido and her seminal memoir, Bed/Time/Story. She grew up in Hollywood, where her father ran MGM, and writes about issues of love and loss for Vogue, Vanity Fair, and the New York Times. Robinson runs the Wimpole Street Writers Group in London, where she lives with her husband, Stuart Shaw.

Bibliographic information