Bethany C. Morrow
MEM is a rare novel, a small book carrying very big ideas, the kind of story that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it.
Part fable, part surrealistic journey, Gallagher Lawson’s impressive debut is a gripping narrative about the nature of artistic identity and its tenuous relationship to the greater good. By creating an alternate reality that nevertheless mirrors our own troubled world order, Lawson has created a visionary, allegorical novel of our time.
Set in the glittering art deco world of a century ago, MEM makes one slight alteration to history: a scientist in Montreal discovers a method allowing people to have their memories extracted from their minds, whole and complete.
The Mems exist as mirror-images of their source — zombie-like creatures destined to experience that singular memory over and over, until they expire in the cavernous Vault where they are kept. And then there is Dolores Extract #1, the first Mem capable of creating her own memories. An ageless beauty shrouded in mystery, she is allowed to live on her own, and create her own existence, until one day she is summoned back to the Vault.
What happens next is a gorgeously rendered, heart-breaking novel in the vein of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Debut novelist Bethany Morrow has created an allegory for our own time, exploring profound questions of ownership, and how they relate to identity, memory and history, all in the shadows of Montreal’s now forgotten slave trade.
Praise for MEM
"Staged in an alternate possibility of the last century, MEM is the story of what could happen if we found a way to remove our bad memories and store them in a surrogate. Of course these surrogates would be kept in a vault and only brought out for special occasions, maybe to impress your friends at a cocktail party. But what if one of them – let’s call her Dolores Extract #1 – did not conform to the ‘rules’ of the process... This is a searing tale of consequences, but it’s also an insightful look into what makes us who we are and what happens when we can dispose of parts of ourselves we no longer want around to haunt us. I guarantee this is a book that will dig its way into your own memories and may well keep you up at night with thoughts you just can’t turn off. What a page-turner!"
—Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore
"MEM is a mind bending exploration of what it means to be human. In this tight, gripping novel doctors have the ability to extract people's traumatic memories. These memories become people, sort of... Or maybe not. And what happens to the people who abuse the procedure? How do our memories shape our lives? MEM is a great read, especially for those interested in the ethics and strange reality of how new technologies impact the human condition."
—Chris Morrow, Northshire Bookstore