Siri Hustvedt, "Memories of the Future," with Jason Tougaw
March 19, 2019, 7:30 PM
A provocative, exuberant novel about time, memory, desire, and the imagination from the internationally bestselling and prizewinning author of The Blazing World, Memories of the Future tells the story of a young Midwestern woman’s first year in New York City in the late 1970s and her obsession with her mysterious neighbor, Lucy Brite.
As she listens to Lucy through the thin walls of her dilapidated building, S.H., aka “Minnesota,” transcribes her neighbor’s bizarre and increasingly ominous monologues in a notebook, along with sundry other adventures, until one frightening night when Lucy bursts into her apartment on a rescue mission.
Forty years later, S.H., now a veteran author, discovers her old notebook, as well as early drafts of a never-completed novel while moving her aging mother from one facility to another. Ingeniously juxtaposing the various texts, S.H. measures what she remembers against what she wrote that year and has since forgotten to create a dialogue between selves across decades. The encounter both collapses time and reframes its meanings in the present.
Elaborately structured, intellectually rigorous, urgently paced, poignant, and often wildly funny, Memories of the Future brings together themes that have made Hustvedt among the most celebrated novelists working today: the fallibility of memory; gender mutability; the violence of patriarchy; the vagaries of perception; the ambiguous borders between sensation and thought, sanity and madness; and our dependence on primal drives such as sex, love, hunger, and rage.
Siri Hustvedt is the internationally acclaimed author of a book of poems, six novels, four collections of essays, and a work of nonfiction. In 2012 she was awarded the International Gabarron Prize for Thought and Humanities. Her novel The Blazing World was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Lost Angeles Book Prize for Fiction. She has also published numerous papers in scholarly and scientific journals. She has a PhD in English literature from Columbia University and is a Lecturer in Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Jason Tougaw is a professor of literature and liberal studies at City University of New York—Queens College and The Graduate Center. He is the author of The Elusive Brain: Literary Experiments in the Age of Neuroscience (Yale University Press), The One You Get: Portrait of a Family Organism (Dzanc Books), and Strange Cases: The Medical Case History and the British Novel (Routledge). His essays have appeared in Electric Literature, Literary Hub, Modern Fiction Studies, Literature and Medicine, Electra Street, Largehearted Boy, Memory in the Twenty-First Century, and Boys to Men: Gay Men Write about Growing Up. He teaches courses and workshops on consciousness studies, neurodiversity, the art and science of dreaming, memory, creative nonfiction, and autobiography and memoir.