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Prisoner in a Red-Rose Chain
The Memory Artists

(Starred review)
February 1, 2006
By Joanne Wilkinson

Beset by a neurological condition, Noel Burun has total recall, and words and voices appear to him as bursts of color. Ironically, his mother, Stella, is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and her worsening condition has made them virtual prisoners in their rambling Montreal home. Gradually, three eccentric friends—the Byronesque Norval, "swoonworthy" Samira, and excitable JJ—all co-subjects with Noel in memory experiments conducted by the Wizard of Oz-like Dr. Vorta, move in with the Buruns. That frees Noel, a pharmacologist turned alchemist, to concentrate on finding a cure for his mother. Containing handwritten journal entries, Vorta's self-serving endnotes, newspaper clippings, and even sketches, this ingenious novel makes for mesmerizing reading. Even more entertaining than its inventive construction is its blazing humor as scabrous Norval, intent on bedding 26 females in alphabetical order in the name of performance art, engages in scathing banter with childlike JJ, who is overly fond of puns. Just as quickly, though, the novel turns poignant as Stella's journal entries movingly record her diminishing control of her faculties. The witty Moore explores every facet of memory—as both a burden and a blessing—in this delightful and inspired story.

© American Library Association. All rights reserved - This text refers to the Advance Paperback edition.