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