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The Girl on The Train HIndi

The Girl on the Train

    As a novel, The Girl on The Train sure has an afterlife. Released in 2015, written by Paula Hawkins, the latest film it spawned was a 2021 Bollywood production (see pic). The amnesia thriller also inspired two other films. I look back on how the original novel became a phenomenon, not merely a runaway best seller, but a marker of the early move in popular fiction towards ‘domestic noir’. My interest lies in the memory loss factor the novel relies on for the telling of its story of ordinary women’s lives gone terribly wrong. The memory loss type? Alcohol induced.

    The Answer to the Riddle is me a tale of amnesia David Stuart Maclean

    The Answer to the Riddle is Me

      Behind the amnesia incident In 2002, David MacLean was a 28-year-old Fulbright scholar in the midst of a research trip to India for a novel when a severe, and sudden, case of amnesia struck. He’d been to India before with no hitches, but on this trip, his anti-malarial medicine caused him to lose his memory. Not that he knew the reason until much later. His amnesia was not merely of the ‘I don’t know where I am, or who’ variety, initially it thrust him into a hallucinatory state, resembling a psychotic episode. Not only the policeman he encountered in his confused frenzied state, but he himself suspected his situation had been induced because he was a drug addict. Having experienced the hallucinatory aspect of my own amnesia, where in my case I believed I was at the mercy of devils prodding me with pitchforks in the underworld, I admire the way Maclean writes about his amnesia. This material is difficult to render, and he pulls it off brilliantly. As readers,… Read More »The Answer to the Riddle is Me

      I Forgot to Remeber by Su Meck. a True life story of retrograde and anterograde amnesia all at once.mnesia

      I Forgot to Remember

        In 1988 Su Meck, a 22-year-old mother of two young boys, was at home in Texas when she swung her six-month-old son around playfully in the air. Unbeknownst to her, part of his body brushed against a precariously connected ceiling fan, which came crashing down on Su’s head, changing her life forever. This accident wiped Su’s mind clean of her memories of her life prior to that point. Her memories of her first 22 years did not return. After the accident, when Su woke up in Intensive Care she did not recognise her children or her husband. So began her life as an amnesiac. Su teamed up with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Daniel de Vise to help her recreate her experience of her case of amnesia, which was an unusually severe one. This is an extraordinary story told candidly. Su’s amnesia story continued Su’s amnesia had elements of two known forms: retrograde and anterograde. She could not remember her life before the injury, nor could she easily make new memories after… Read More »I Forgot to Remember

        Guy Pierce as Leonard Shelby the ten-minute man, with anterograde amnesia


          Happy Birthday, Memento! It’s 21 years since Memento came to Australian viewers as a masterpiece of cinematic subjectivity directed by Christopher Nolan. Once seen, it’s hard to forget the vengeful amnesiac, Leonard Shelby, played by an emaciated, strung out, heavily tattooed, Guy Pierce. The huge volume of reviews and scholarly work since its release gives some indication of Memento’s impact, for it marked a surge in the ‘amnesia genre’ in contemporary books and films that continues to this day. Dubbed a neo-noir mystery thriller by Jason Clark from AllMovie , a boilerplate noir by New York Times reviewer A.O. Scott , a mystery thriller by the IMD site , whatever genre critics ascribe to it, most pay homage to its ingenuity, as they confirm its prime place in cinematic history, mulling over its diabolical structure and open-ended finale. What does the ending mean? Is Leonard Shelby an escapee from an asylum? Is he lying to himself and others? Is his wife alive or dead? How many of his memories are… Read More »Memento

          The Beautiful Fall

          The Beautiful Fall

            The Premise Every 179 days, a young man named Robbie forgets everything about his past due to a rare neurological condition. Thus the premise of the novel thrusts us into fantasy amnesia, a whole sub-genre of amnesia fiction in itself, and fine by me. When we meet Robbie, he knows his condition exists because one of his former selves has written a letter for him explaining his situation. What’s more, he has prepared himself a strategy; a set of strict instructions on how to live his life until the next forgetting. The herculean project he undertakes in his living room—setting up 83,790 dominoes into tower structures—takes all his concentration, energy and time. It is designed to keep him entirely on his own. Robbie has a maxim to help keep his sense of self intact: “Keep to yourself to keep yourself.” At the novel opening, there are only twelve days left before Robbie’s next forgetting. His domino task is proceeding smoothly, until a pretty young woman named Julie turns up. She… Read More »The Beautiful Fall

            Room 15 by Charles Harris

            Room 15

              The Room 15 story Imagine you’re holding a party in summer one minute, and suddenly you’re alone in the street with snow falling, blood running from your neck and on your hands. What has happened in-between times, you have no idea. This is an early scene from Room 15. The reader sees the world from the narrator, Ross Blackleigh’s perspective, and so, like him, we find out through a series of surreal experiences that 18 months of his life have been wiped clean from his memory. Ross is a detective inspector in the midst of a murder investigation. He soon remembers his police work and identity, just not what’s occurred in the last year and a half. What’s more, someone is trying to kill him. In order to solve the murder of a nurse—whose last phone call was to him—it is crucial for Ross not to let on to those around him that he has trouble with his memory. Father and son complexity As someone who had profound amnesia myself,… Read More »Room 15

              Still Alice

              Still Alice

                Alice Howland is a linguistics expert and professor teaching at Harvard University, thus when she forgets what the word ‘lexicon’ means while delivering a lecture, it is more telling than if someone else were to have forgotten it. So begins 50-year-old Alice’s downward slide into early-onset Alzheimers in the novel Still Alice, by Lisa Genova. The book was a New York bestseller in 2007, and the film adaptation (2014), won Julianne Moore a string of awards, including an Oscar for her role as Alice Howland. When I realised what Still Alice was about, I didn’t want to go there. As someone who woke one day in 1991 with full-scale retrograde amnesia, vestiges of which dog me to this day, I don’t like contemplating the possibility of getting a cognitive degenerative disease. So what eventually changed my mind? I realised my reviews here are not meant to be about my own case. I am exploring what other people have created in books and films about human forgetting and remembering. Still Alice… Read More »Still Alice

                The Moostone cover by Wilkie Collins

                The Moonstone

                  If you think the first English detective novel, written in Dickens’s day, would be too dated to bother reading, think again. The Moonstone remains to this day a cracking good yarn, offering engaging and colourful characters, a dark mystery tinged with the exotic and laden with social critique, plenty of suspense and an unexpected ending. Right to the final pages, the question remains: who dun it? A precursor Edgar Allen Poe had several pivotal crime mystery short stories out by the time The Moonstone appeared in 1868, but being a full-length novel, Wilkie Collins landed the title grandfather of the detective novel. The Moonstone set many of the ground rules for the popular genre it spawned. These include an English country house robbery; a ‘locked-room’ puzzle; a cast of eccentric characters, each potentially with a motive; bungling rural police; the entrance of a celebrated, skilled detective; numerous red herrings and false leads; the reader being granted all the clues to solve the crime at the same time as the detective;… Read More »The Moonstone

                  Catherine Lacey Pew. in which a character with amnesia is represented as indeterminate in terms of gender, class, ethnic background and age


                    As I read Pew my opinion of it swung wildly. One minute I thought it ground-breaking and brilliant, the next it disappointed. I do not usually have two minds about books, but then Pew is not your usual book. The premise The first-person narrator is an amnesiac with no idea of their past, their age, cultural or ethnic background. Furthermore, they may or may not know what gender they are, but either way they are not letting on. People in the book who meet them come up with different answers. Pew very rarely speaks, so such questions are left to guesswork by other characters. The reader is often none the wiser. This shape-shifting character, stumbles into a picturesque Bible-belt town in the US a week before its annual ‘forgiveness festival’, in which its citizens full of righteousness and zeal will reach the point of hysteria.The novel opens when our protagonist is woken on a church pew by one of the town’s prominent Christian families. The family promptly names them Pew.… Read More »Pew

                    The Bourne Identity Robert Ludlum

                    Me and Jason Bourne

                      Dare I compare myself with Jason Bourne? We may seem like an unlikely pair considering Jason Bourne is a sharp shooting fictional character in an American spy thriller and I am a pacifist woman living a quiet life in Australia. Yet what we share is waking up one time with no idea who we were, in other words, a case of amnesia. . Bourne’s memory loss story has been a famous and highly lucrative one. Yet increasingly Bourne’s characterisation, and the marketing behind him has come under heavy criticism. Read more about critical responses. Robert Ludlum’s inspiration for Bourne Bourne’s amnesia was first introduced to the reading public in the opening scene of the novel The Bourne Identity (1980) by Robert Ludlum (pictured left) when Jason Bourne is hauled out of the water into a French fishing boat. This scene is replicated in the film of the same name released in 2002. Already a spy thriller writer, Ludlum was inspired to create the Bourne character after he experienced a case… Read More »Me and Jason Bourne


                      We Were Liars

                        We Were Liars is a short novel, perfect for any reader who wants a small pacy read and is prepared to slip into the skin of an impetuous American teenager. True to its YA nature, there is an impassioned, impossible love story, but it offers more than that. It’s also about what lies beneath the façade of the American dream epitomised by the glamorous and very rich Sinclair family. Cady and the Sinclairs The Sinclairs are small l liberal elites. They are invariably tall, good-looking and confident. Cadence or Cady, our 15-year-old narrator at the novel’s opening, says: “We are old-money Democrats. Our smiles are wide, our chins square and our tennis serves aggressive.” Cady has a quick wit, a big heart, and a wild story to tell, centred around her annual trips to the family’s private island, Beechwood. Our narrator has a flaw: she is, at least initially, blind to her privilege. On the island, Cady connects to three others she calls collectively ‘The Liars’. Johny and Mirran are… Read More »We Were Liars