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Past Forgetting
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An unflinching account of amnesia and the terror of being a writer without memory, this memoir adds a dramatic chapter to Robinson's life story, which she has explored in a previous memoir and fiction (Bed/Time/Story; Perdido). One day in 1992, she woke up in a London hospital, unable to recognize her husband and drawing a blank on the last 10 years or so, because of a seizure. Later, she realized that her childhood "asthma" and several blackouts were attacks of epilepsy. Condensing a long, painful recovery period, Robinson adopts a style that's at times impressionistic but that's unified by fine powers of observation and flashes of humor. What fascinates the reader is which memories she has retained and which she has lost. Her devoted husband is largely a benevolent stranger. Her children from a former marriageÄnow adults living in the U.S.Äare photographs and voices to her. She seems to recall her privileged childhood most clearly, offering a loving portrait of her father, the Oscar-winning writer and film executive Dore Schary, who ran MGM Studios for several years. Raised among Hollywood royalty in the '40s and '50s, Robinson occasionally confuses her life with movie plots, though some glitter remains from her friendships with Barbara Streisand, schoolmate "Bobby" Redford and such journalists as John Lahr. The book's primary appeal lies in the author's bravery in confronting her loss, gamely seeing old friends she doesn't remember, forming a writers' group as a kind of surrogate family and reconnecting emotionally with her grandchildren. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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