"Complicated, cool and vulnerable at the same time...you can't help falling for Pagan Kennedy's characters."—Stephen Dubner, The New York Times
Once a brilliant historian with a promising academic future, Win Duncan is at a crossroads in his career when he is mysteriously summoned by Litminov, a wild but brilliant chemist from his college days. Litminov has made millions since, and has bought a pharmaceutical company solely to develop MEM, an experimental drug that gives one the ability to recall life’s best memories with crystal clarity. Duncan becomes a beta tester and loses himself to the most delicious moments of his past—those precious few years with his mother who died tragically when he was just a child; ecstatic sex with his wife when they first fell in love—until he discovers the dark side effects of a drug that turns the past into pornography and renders the present useless.
A proven master of underground lit, beat fiction and narrative non-fiction, Pagan Kennedy takes on America’s obsession with the idealized past with freshness, wit, and an uncanny ability to measure the pulse of post-modern culture.
Pagan Kennedy is the author of seven books. The most recent, Black Livingstone, was a New York Times Notable Book and a winner of the Massachusetts Book Award. Her novel Spinsters won a Barnes & Noble Discover Award and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, Britain’s most prestigious literary award. Her articles appear regularly in The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Spin, and Salon.
Kennedy (Spinsters) turns in a surprisingly bittersweet novel with science fiction overtones and a delicious premise: what if you could relive your past highlights only? Win Duncan, a history professor at a small New Hampshire college, gets the opportunity when old college buddy Phil Litminov, now a hotshot entrepreneur and maverick investor, calls with a vague but enthusiastic offer to help test a new drug called Mem. Burned out at 40 and drifting away from his wife, Edie, Win's only passion is a book he's writing about Thomas De Quincey, the infamous author of Confessions of an English Opium Eater. But even this passion is fading and easily outweighed by the desire to revisit his days of Columbia grad school stardom. Mem turns out to be more than Win expects, and the plot thickens with Phil's disappearance, the threatened disintegration of Win's marriage and a hookup with Phil's most wounded and vulnerable subject. Kennedy's easy style masks a fierce intelligence and painstaking artistry in this melancholy midlife crisis-with-a-twist.