In a literary motherlode, Lethem redefines the classic amnesia story, once little more than getting a bump on the head—but not in the hands of these masters. These masters? Umm? Vladimir who??? Nabokov! Yes, of course. He wrote—he wrote—let’s look it up. “That in Aleppo Once . . .,” a title taken from Haml . . . uh, Othello. Perhaps we’d best just quote from Lethem’s lead-in where he compares modern authors handling amnesia to earlier tale-spinners: “. . . try imagining Emily Brontë [and Heathcliff on a bad day] if she’d scrutinized her characters with the neurological vocabulary available to writers like Philip K. Dick, Lawrence Shainberg, and Dennis Potter”—all included here. What’s important to know is that amnesia is fiction: the amnesiac finds himself leading a fictional life! Remember that. Now hear this drumroll: Martin Amis, Shirley Jackson, Walker Percy, Jorge Luis Borges, Cornell Woolrich, Flann O’Brien, Edmund White, Oliver Sacks, Haruki Murakami, Anna Kavan, Thomas M. Disch, Donald Barthelme, Russel Hoban—and that’s only half of them!
Now write this reminder down. I must order this anthology of memory loss. I need it. I really, really need it.