David Profumo

Dirty Work in the Memory Palace

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything


Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 299pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

The first time we meet Josh Foer he is in front of a television crew, trying to memorise in under five minutes the order of two shuffled decks of cards using a mnemonic system that features Michael Jackson (the king of hearts) defecating (two of clubs) onto a salmon burger (king of clubs) while the bartendress from Cheers (queen of spades) is pleasuring a Sudanese basketball player (seven of clubs). What follows is a labyrinthine personal journey that explains how our author ended up in the finals of the US Memory Championship – a compelling story arc from sceptical journalist to dedicated participant. I can’t remember when I last found a science book so intriguing.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Why did the 'bold and determined' Empress Matilda never manage to become Queen regnant? Peter Marshall reviews a n… ,
    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,