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Prisoner in a Red-Rose Chain
The Memory Artists

Publishers Weekly

A renegade scientist's pathbreaking memory experiments form the core of Moore's dashing, postmodern debut novel. When young Noel Burun, the son of a disappointed chemist, is taken to see the renowned Montreal neurologist Emile Vorta, the boy is diagnosed with "synaesthesia," a condition in which all the senses intensely trigger one another. The malady, if one can call it that, gives Noel a super-Proustian gift of recollection. It proves a real boon when, years later, Noel must manage Stella, his beautiful widowed mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. As the novel unfolds, Noel, now a University of Quebec psychology grad student, joins Vorta's neuropsych lab. There, he attempts to find a wonder drug to cure his mother, enlisting the lab's assortment of unconventional charactersto help him: the cynical rou and actor Norval X. Blaquiere, hell-bent on a performance-art project that involves seducing an alphabet's worth of women, A to Z (he's on S-as in "Stella"); former film star Samira Darwish, who steps into Vorta's amnesia experiments and reinvents herself as Noel's modest muse; and jokey, chemical-happy JJ Yelle, who helps Noel concoct outrageous experiments. Canadian Moore exhibits a nimble, sprightly touch, with understated emotive depths; his rendering of Stella's sadly solipsistic diary is particularly heart-wrenching. (Mar.)

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