“There is a smudge where my memory is supposed to be.”
Claire wakes in a hospital room in the Florida Keys. She has no idea how she got there or why. The loss of so many memories is paralyzing. Some things she can piece together by looking at old photos saved by her husband, Charlie, and her best friend, Rachel, and by combing through boxes of letters and casual jottings. But she senses a mystery at the center of all these fragments of her past, a feeling that something is not complete. Is Charlie still her husband? Is Rachel still her friend?
Told from alternating points of view that pull the reader into the minds of the three characters, the story unfolds as the smudge that covers Claire’s memory is gradually, steadily wiped away, until finally she can understand the why and the how of her life. And then maybe she and Charlie and Rachel can move forward, but with their lives forever changed.
In Remind Me Again What Happened, debut novelist Joanna Luloff has written a moving and beautifully nuanced story of transience, the ebb and flow of time, and how relationships shift and are reconfigured by each day, hour, and minute.
Luloff's pensive debut novel (following the story collection The Beach at Galle Road) uses amnesia as a metaphor for the kind of daily forgetting that makes any long relationship possible. Journalist Claire Scott, who has been working in India, wakes up one day to discover that she is in a hospital in Florida. She can't remember how she got there, or much else about her life from her teens to her present age of 34, and regular seizures leave her debilitated. Once she gets out of the hospital, she moves to the house in Vermont she shared with her husband, Charlie. Charlie and Claire's old best friend, Rachel, who remind her that they all shared a house 10 years ago in graduate school, keep an eye on her. The tension builds as Claire tries to determine how much she can trust the two people who have devoted themselves to her recovery. The book loses some momentum as the pieces of the puzzle fall into place; the triangle formed by the three protagonists essentially the only people in the novel is perhaps too predictable; and the conclusion is far-fetched. Using thriller conventions to meditate on memory, the novel nonetheless raises pointed questions about just how reliable any narrative of one's life can be.