The Booker Prize-nominated author offers a new novel about a woman in her 60s who finds her old diary and reads it, remembering her time as a penniless young writer in 1970s New York, where she became fascinated by her mysterious neighbor and the conversations she hears through the walls.
Few contemporary writers are as satisfying and stimulating to read as Siri Hustvedt. Her sentences dance with the elation of a brilliant intellect romping through a playground of ideas, and her prose is just as lively when engaged in the development of characters and story. Her wonderful new novel, Memories of the Future, is, among other things, a meditation on memory, selfhood and aging ... Hustvedt’s lovely novel closes by reclaiming one of those people and imagining her soaring over Manhattan, an image of freedom and agency that is always endangered, always to be fought for.
After a while, I was finding it helpful to think of Memories of the Future as an essay rather than a novel. The best essays record the tacks and turns of an interesting mind, and Hustvedt — also an accomplished art critic and essayist — is never not interesting. Her acts of mind are more bracing than the story of SH, which feels thin and sepia-toned, like a photograph put through one of those antiquing apps ... the ending manages to be quite moving and unconvincing at the same time, a recapitulation of the tonal contradiction that pervades this sometimes incisive, sometimes sentimental novel, or memoir, or whatever we decide to call it.
... vivid ... Memories of the Future is narrated with a crisp, professorial tone, which risks coming across more like cultural critique than fiction ... If [the book's obsessions sound] like thesis fodder, Hustvedt has the imaginative mastery to encase complex ideas in the flesh and blood needed to render them visceral.