Hello Readers! Kemi Bonuola here. So tell me, what have you been reading? For me, I finally finished reading Memory Wall by Anthony Doerr and guess what? It was amazing! Sincerely I was being miserly with the book, I know I should have finished reading it two weeks ago. Yep. However, I got to the last story and I was sad because I felt sorry to lose a new friend. Anyway,  Memory Wall left me with a  pleasant memory and I thought I should share.

memory wall pic


Of memories I THINK we do not say enough yet they are the all the stuff we are made of. My earliest memories are of 5 year old Kemi-a tall skinny black girl with fast growing feet and funny teeth. I also remember the way I used to follow my sisters everywhere and their irritation at me for being clingy. Memories are an integral part of our existence and Anthony Doerr reminds us in Memory Wall how hollow we would be if we lost our memories. I cannot begin to put down the emotions that Memory Wall pulled up because it is really hard to express. Let’s just say that I was stirred to write a thousand poems or better still I spun short two lined poems from lines that had obviously been carefully wound together by this brilliant author. His ability to dive into those small spaces in a character’s most private thoughts and float to the surface with the insecurities and fears hidden within made me want to hide in the pages and sympathize.

I am using a different approach in my review with this book like I mentioned in one of my posts. I am reviewing as I read so that the essence of my experience is not lost. At the end of this review I hope that I would have been able to share my thoughts fully without losing them the way the character in the first story lost hers. Memory Wall is a book of short stories and the first story which bears the book’s title is the most poignant, edgy, goose bump raising story I have ever read in my entire life. I am not even kidding right now. It made me think, think and think. It helped me through a difficult time and it kind of gave me healing because as I came to the realization that the loss of one’s mind as it were is one of the most difficult things one can experience and I learnt to appreciate my memories anew. I hope this makes sense to someone out there. I am also trying very hard not to put in any spoilers.

So when I was a child I loved Danish butter cookies it used to come in huge beautifully wrapped baskets along with a cornucopia of other nice things for Christmas. The only difficulty I had with Danish butter cookies was choosing. I never knew which to choose because they were all good. I feel exactly the same way about Memory Wall, all the stories are so good I find it very hard in fact impossible to pick a favorite. Each story brought a different mood, with the first story (Memory Wall) I felt sad, then anxious, excited then shocked. The second story (Procreate, Generate) was so believable I was walking beside the characters urging them to speak up, “tell each other what you are thinking, how you are feeling, say something”…the third story (The Demilitarized Zone) felt too short but in its brevity I picked up life lessons like, those who you love can hurt you. I wanted more. The fourth story (Village 113) was so profound in its narration while the fifth (River Nemunas) found me grieving for the loss felt by the character yet got me lost again in her slow healing process. The last story (Afterworld) was hauntingly intense and made me feel like reading the first again and I assure you I will. Yes, I will.

I believe the most beautiful thing about Memory Wall is the author’s ability to draw the reader’s attention to something so important yet not often regarded. Also his attention to detail expressed in his description of everything is highly commendable because It adds to the powerful narration of each story.

As the stories in Memory Wall eased away into endings unexpected and tugged at my heartstrings in its careful narrating I acknowledged the beauty of a story well crafted. You will notice that I have given nothing away except to tell you how the book made me feel, indeed that was my intention.

I will end my review (reluctantly) of this book that wove memories through each story by taking a line from Village 113:

“Memory is a house with ten thousand rooms: it is a village slated to be inundated”.

Anthony Doerr’s Memory Wall is a collection of short stories crafted with wisdom and deep understanding of the human mind and the complications of human relations.

Have you read this book? What do you think about memories?

Kemi Bonuola




7 thoughts on “MEMORY WALL

  1. Not so much a review as a reflection and an invitation to enter the world described in these tenuously linked stories. Linked by the theme of memory, that is. When I read the stories I too wrote a found poem titled Memory Wall stringing together passages from the various stories. Thank you Kembon for the invitation!


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