Siri Hustvedt

Memories of the Future review in the Washington Post
Mar 2019

The Washington Post

Memories of the Future review in the Washington Post

Wendy Smith writes: "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, but the plot is driven by the encounters of a present-day narrator with the young woman she was when she moved to New York City in August 1978. The drama that arises from these encounters is a reckoning between male privilege and female rage as timeless as “Medea” and as contemporary as #MeToo.

“S.H.,” a recent college graduate from Minnesota, has come to Manhattan to write a novel. But it’s hard to concentrate in her run-down apartment on West 109th Street; the walls are thin, and she can hear her neighbor intoning, “Lucy’s sad, she’s sad, I’m sad.” S.H. works fitfully on her novel, distracted by the angry conversations and mysterious sessions of chanting and drumming taking place next door. She speculates about them with her “gang of five,” a group of young, ambitious intellectuals who become lifelong friends. With them, she ventures from poetry readings to “midnight forays into urban decadence” at Studio 54 and the Mudd Club. One of these late-night excursions exposes S.H. to an act of male violence that still unnerves the narrator 38 years later. “The memory hurts me — hurts me now,” she writes. “And that is how the past stays alive.”"