By Zoran Zivkovic (Kurodahan Press; 2007/10)
Amarcord is the Romagnolo word for “I Remember.” That’s appropriate, as memory, and its every conceivable fictional permutation, is the subject of this collection of ten thematically linked stories. All the stories are around 10 pages in length, and all are named after famous works of literature (“The Magic Mountain,” “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting,” “Fahrenheit 451,” etc). Each tale more or less stands on its own, yet the book must be taken as a whole to be fully understood. It’s a Zoran Zivkovic work, after all!
In truth this is one of Zivkovic’s easier books. The tales nearly all contain distinct beginnings, middles and ends, and there’s even a final summarization of what came before (as well as an explanation for those chapter titles). Yet the book still demands a fair amount from the reader.
It begins and ends in a hospital room, where in the first story a nameless man discovers his memory has been artificially removed due to an unspecified crime he committed–and in the last story another nameless man (the same one?) learns a far more momentous truth about himself and his memories.
The subjects of the other eight tales include an antique shop where one can buy others’ memories as well as a dealer who trades in artificial memories, a doctor who discovers an amnesiac’s “backup memory,” a machine that retrieves deceased people’s past experiences from DNA stored in their body parts, “memory agencies” that purchase especially exciting and dramatic memories, a man who can steal other peoples’ memories, another man who suffers from “double memories” and another who can recall various different timelines for any single event.
There are hints of science fiction herein, yet the whole thing is quite straightforward and unburdened with techno jargon or self-conscious prose. In true Zivkovic fashion, the stories are all related in an unerringly crisp and straightforward manner, and with an impeccable eye for the bizarre.