The Memory Palace

A Memoir

By Mira Bartok
(Free Press, Paperback, 9781439183328, 336pp.)

Publication Date: August 9, 2011

Other Editions of This Title: Compact Disc, Compact Disc, MP3 CD

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the Summer '11 Reading Group List
“This is a beautifully written, heart-stomping, provocative memoir about a daughter's 17-year estrangement from her schizophrenic mother and their rapprochement following the mother's diagnosis of terminal cancer. Just as the daughter tries to recreate her own life after a traumatic brain injury, she is faced with revisiting her broken childhood via a cache of physical mementos saved by her mother. This memoir provokes so many questions, not just about mothers and daughters, but also about genius and sanity, abuse and resiliency, and what family members owe each other.”
-- Nancy Colalillo, Tome on the Range Books, Las Vegas, NM


Description

When piano prodigy Norma Herr was healthy, she was the most vibrant personality in the room. But as her schizophrenic episodes became more frequent and more dangerous, she withdrew into a world that neither of her daughters could make any sense of. After Norma attacked her, Mira Bartók and her sister changed their names and cut off all contact in order to keep themselves safe. For the next seventeen years Mira’s only contact with her mother was through infrequent letters exchanged through post office boxes, often not even in the same city where she was living.

At the age of forty, Mira suffered a debilitating head injury that left her memories foggy and her ability to make sense of the world around her forever changed. Hoping to reconnect with her past, Mira learned Norma was dying in a hospital, and she and her sister traveled to their mother’s deathbed to reconcile one last time.

Through stunning prose and gorgeous original art, The Memory Palace explores the connections between mother and daughter that cannot be broken no matter how much exists—or is lost—between them.




About the Author

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.




NPR
Friday, Jun 1, 2012

Writer Mira Bartok's memoir, The Memory Palace, is in part about the car accident that left her with traumatic brain injury and about her relationship with her schizophrenic mother. She explains how her brain injury helped her understand â?? and reconnect with â?? her mother. More at NPR.org

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Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. The prologue describes a homeless woman standing on a window ledge, thinking about jumping. The author writes, "Let's call her my mother for now, or yours" (p. xiii) How does imagining a loved one of your own in that position change the way you think about the book? Does it help you connect or make the situation more personal?




Praise For The Memory Palace

A Washington Post Best Book of 2011

The National Book Critics Circle Award Winner for Best Autobiography of 2011

The National Book Critics Circle Award Winner for Best Autobiography of 2011

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