Two more books I've read recently, sharing a theme of memory loss. Reading these books was actually a bit difficult at times, since they made me think about how my mum's memory loss effectively wiped out her identity in the months before her death. 1. "The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana" by Umberto Eco <http://www.amazon.com/Mysterious-Flame-Queen-Loana/dp/0151011400> This is a story about Yambo, an elderly bookseller lost his memory after a stroke. Strangely, he can't remember anything about his personal life, yet he can still remember very clearly things he's read in books and heard in popular songs. Yambo decides to retrace his life by going back to his old house in the country, where he grew up. With the help of old comics, toys, posters and books, Yambo attempts to find out who he is/was. The novel itself is described as an illustrated novel, and indeed it features lots of colour pictures from comics, posters and other printed material. These play an integral part in the telling of the story. Also, they provide a pocket pictorial history of Italy, in particular from the 1930s to post World War Two. An interesting read, especially if you're a fan of early comics like Flash Gordon and Mickey Mouse aka Topolino. 2. "The Raw Shark Texts" by Steven Hall <http://www.amazon.com/Raw-Shark-Texts/dp/1841959111> Eric Sanderson wakes up realising he doesn't know who he is. There's a note addressed to him from the "First Eric Sanderson", urging him to stay calm and contact Dr. Randle immediately. She will tell him what's happened. Apparently this has been a recurring sequence. Dr. Randle tells him he suffers from a dissociative disorder, where he loses more and more of his memory. The death of his girlfriend while on holiday was the trigger. At this point you'd think this story is a bit ho-hum, but then things start getting really interesting. He continues to receive letters in the mail, apparently from the "First Eric Sanderson". His former self is telling him that his memories have been taken by a Ludovician - a "conceptual shark". This shark has been feeding off his memories for a while. The shark must be destroyed, otherwise Eric will lose his identity completely. So begins his quest to vanquish the Ludovician. Along the way he: * journeys through Un-Space (e.g. disused attics, derelict factories, boarded-up houses, ducting etc) * attempts to decode messages from himself * meets Scout, who remarkably shares the exact same tattoo on her big toe as his deceased girlfriend * meets the mysterious Dr. Trey Fidorous, doctor of languages and expert in all types of conceptual fish Scout has her own quest to defeat Mycroft Ward, who has found a way to make himself immortal via cyberspace. As if the narrative wasn't fluid enough, there's a 50-odd page flip book section describing part of the action as the story reaches its climax. The ending is a bit ambiguous, but then in some ways that's to be expected. People have described this book as the Matrix meets Jaws. The letters from Eric's former self are reminiscent of Memento. However, I should warn you that this book can mess with your head a bit, and may not be for the feint-hearted. You might question what is identity, and how do you know for sure that you are sane, or are you actually insane but think you're normal?