I pack up and box a stack of books I don’t want anymore, toss them into the car and ride off to the sunset (literally: I drove them 20 miles to Key West Island Books!) to trade them in. To make a long story (and ride) short, I return with about half of the ones I carry down, plus another 10 I buy.
Unpacking the box, I spot one book I just don’t remember ever owning, buying, or reading. Ironically, it’s called Amnesia, by Douglas Cooper. It looks sort of interesting, so I put in the line-up. I get to it last Monday, go through the first of its 4 parts, and decide it probably ain’t worth continuing, but decide I’ll see what I can learn about the author and the book on-line.
Here’s part of what I learn:
Publishers Weekly noted that it was “Published to extravagant praise in Canada (with comparisons to Nabokov, Genet, Calvino and Margaret Atwood).” Kirkus Reviews wrote that Amnesia was “more concerned with emotional states than traditional characters, and… reminiscent of, say, Thomas’s White Hotel.” Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times observed: “Although… (a) self-conscious quality never entirely lifts, one gradually comes to appreciate Mr. Cooper’s copious gifts.” James Polk, in a second New York Times review, called Amnesia “a dense, absorbing first novel (which) locates prominent features in the landscapes of mind and memory.” While the Chicago Tribune hailed the book as “intricate”, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel dismissed it as “forgettable”. The Boston Globe called Cooper “ambitious”, and noted that he “takes us on a journey through the dark corridors of the psyche, introducing us to characters who change shape as easily as smoke rings.”
So the sole negative review it gets is composed right here in south Florida. What crabs we are. Totally out of step with the rest of the North America reading public. Nattering nabobs of negativity. Just for shits and giggles I activate the link to read the review. Imagine my surprise when I see I wrote it in 1994.
Amnesia. Don’t remember reading it. Don’t remember reviewing it. Called it “forgettable.” And 22 years later, I confirm my own black-hearted opinion.
Fun re-reading the review, though. The kid could write.