The Story of Forgetting by Stefan Merrill Block
A Novel

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In Stefan Merrill Block’s extraordinary debut, three narratives intertwine to create a story that is by turns funny, smart, introspective, and revelatory.

Abel Haggard is an elderly hunchback who haunts the remnants of his family’s farm in the encroaching shadow of the Dallas suburbs, adrift in recollections of those he loved and lost long ago. As a young man, he believed himself to be “the one person too many”; now he is all that remains. Hundreds of miles to the south, in Austin, Seth Waller is a teenage “Master of Nothingness”–a prime specimen of that gangly, pimple-rashed, too-smart breed of adolescent that vanishes in a puff of sarcasm at the slightest threat of human contact. When his mother is diagnosed with a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s, Seth sets out on a quest to find her lost relatives and to conduct an “empirical investigation” that will uncover the truth of her genetic history. Though neither knows of the other’s existence, Abel and Seth are linked by a dual legacy: the disease that destroys the memories of those they love, and the story of Isidora–an edenic fantasy world free from the sorrows of remembrance, a land without memory where nothing is ever possessed, so nothing can be lost.

Through the fusion of myth, science, and storytelling, this novel offers a dazzling illumination of the hard-learned truth that only through the loss of what we consider precious can we understand the value of what remains.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Stefan Merrill Block

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Stefan Merrill Block is the author of The Story of Forgetting. He was born in 1982 and grew up in Plano, Texas. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2004. This is his second novel. He lives in Brooklyn.
Published April 1, 2008 by Random House. 322 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Story of Forgetting

The New York Times

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In the midst of his improbably upbeat debut novel, Stefan Merrill Block tells the story of Lord Alban Mapplethorpe and his descendants.

Mar 27 2008 | Read Full Review of The Story of Forgetting: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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The hunchbacked, memory-obsessed Abel Haggard is given a broad Southern accent that remains remarkably precise, considering its exaggerated pitch, and Seth Waller, the teenager trapped in an unhappy family, in search of an explanation for his mother’s mysterious illness, receives a much flatter, ...

Aug 25 2008 | Read Full Review of The Story of Forgetting: A Novel


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Alan Cheuse reviews Stefan Merrill Block's debut novel The Story of Forgetting, which intertwines three narratives — of memory, loss and fantasy — in a family coping with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Apr 07 2008 | Read Full Review of The Story of Forgetting: A Novel

Book Reporter

After Seth's mother leaves the house in the middle of the night, Seth searches frantically until he finally finds her under a street lamp, carrying a suitcase and saying she's going home.

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of The Story of Forgetting: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

A- Originally posted Mar 28, 2008 Published in issue #985 Apr 04, 2008 Order article reprints

Mar 28 2008 | Read Full Review of The Story of Forgetting: A Novel


Like Seth, his life has been scarred by the loss of family members to Alzheimer's.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

(Jamie?s fanciful tales put one in the mind of the White Queen?s remark to Alice, in Lewis Carroll?s Through the Looking Glass: "It?s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.") In spite of their dissimilarity Block successfully unites these stories by the novel?s end, in a reunion scene ...

Jul 17 2008 | Read Full Review of The Story of Forgetting: A Novel

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