"The Memory Palace" is a gorgeous memoir about the 17-year estrangement of the author and her homeless schizophrenic mother, and their reunion."The Memory Palace" is a gorgeous memoir about the 17-year estrangement of the author and her homeless schizophrenic mother, and their reunion.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 2010-12-13 This moving, compassionately candid memoir by artist and children's book author Bartok describes a life dominated by her gifted but schizophrenic mother. Bartok and her sister, Rachel, both of whom grew up in Cleveland, are abandoned by their novelist father and go to live with their mother at their maternal grandparents' home. By 1990, a confrontation in which her mother cuts her with broken glass leads Bartok (nee Myra Herr) to change her identity and flee the woman she calls "the cry of madness in the dark." Eventually, the estrangement leaves her mother homeless, wandering with her belongings in a knapsack, writing letters to her daughter's post office box. Reunited 17 years later, Bartok is suffering memory loss from an accident; her mother is 80 years old and dying from stomach cancer. Only through memories do they each find solace for their collective journey. Using a mnemonic technique from the Renaissance-a memory palace-Bartok imagines, chapter by chapter, a mansion whose rooms secure the treasured moments of her reconstructed past. With a key found stashed in her mother's knapsack, she unlocks a rental storage room filled with paintings, diaries, and photos. Bartok turns these strangely parallel narratives and overlapping wonders into a haunting, almost patchwork, narrative that lyrically chronicles a complex mother-daughter relationship. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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