THIS WEEK’S CANBERRA WEEKLY COLUMN – 20 JUNE 2019
This week’s column is broadly based around the idea of memory. Lynne Kelly’s fascinating book about Memory Craft provides interesting insights into how we can improve our capacity for remembering. It is told in an lucid and interesting manner and provides some good practical tips. It also reassures those of us of a certain age, that it is never too late to improve our ability to remember (if only I could remember where I left the book!)
Lynne Olson’s Madame Fourcade’s Secret War is a timely and engaging reminder of the heroism of many of the French people during the Nazi occupation. Focusing on Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, who progressed from being an aimless pre-War socialite to the very effective leader of a vast resistance network, Olson paints a well documented and very vivid picture of what it was like in France during the Second World War. A well written and very evocative piece of historical research.
Blake Crouch’s Recursion is probably more typical of the books usually reviewed on this Blog. Crouch is a very well respected thriller writer, author of the Wayward Pines and Letty Dobesh novels, who has in recent years moved into the realm of the science fiction thriller. His latest book provides a good dose of thrills and excitement, underpinned by some interesting ideas around the planting of false memories.
The central conceit of Recursion, revolves the invention of a device that allows for the planting of detailed false memories in human subjects. These false memories have the effect of allowing the person to go back in time and changing the way that their lives unfold, impacting not only themselves, but those around them. It is this element of Crouch’s story that requires the greatest suspension of disbelief.
If you accept the scientific mumbo-jumbo at the core of Crouch’s book, it works very well as a fast paced thriller, albeit with some repetition towards the end. The characters are well sketched and credible and Crouch creates some very poignant moments around one of the central characters, the New York policeman Barry Sutton. It is a good, entertaining read, although I preferred his more straight-forward and extremely exciting , roller-coaster ride thrillers like Snow Bound and Abandon.