We are our memory. The Book of Memory Gaps: a poetic meditation on the fragility of our memory

Cecilia Ruiz, The Book of Memory Gaps

Published  2015 by Blue Rider Press, 64p

 

Jorge Luis Borges’ fascination with the human mind inspired Cecilia Ruiz, illustrator and author originally from Mexico City, now living and working in Brooklyn, New York, for her debut book, The Book of Memory Gaps, a collection of fourteen short lyrical stories that examine our subconscious and its fragility.

We are the things we don’t remember,

The blank spaces, the forgotten words.

 

In memory we are the narrators of our own stories, our subconscious is intimate and subjective yet a delicate, breakable system. Each short prose in Ruiz’s book tells the experience of a different protagonist and subtly invites to introspection. There is melancholy, struggle, loneliness and tragedy but also empathy and a lot of learning.  We witness different stages of stress and amnesia, anosmia and Alzheimer.

We meet Valentin who is in love but does not remember how certain objects look like and makes bouquets of utensils, Simon, a priest who borrowed the sins from all those that confessed to him and Nadya who has never seen the ocean but remembers swimming in it.

priest

BookOfMemoryGaps02_800

Veronika was bad at faces but good with smells. She learned to make perfumes and gave them to the ones she loved so she might know when they were near.

perfume

 After her fall, Polina was not able to create new memories. She lived believing every night was the opening night. The first of many tragedies was having to wear a used discolored costume. The last, and most painful, was performing for an empty theater.

On the last page there is a verse by Borges, a beautiful and meaningful definition of the human being:

We are our memory,

We are that chimerical museum of shifting shapes,

That pile of broken mirrors.

 

So, who would we be without our memory?

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