Carol Rumens

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman

Memories of the Future


Sceptre 318pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

‘Years ago I left the wide, flat fields of rural Minnesota for the island of Manhattan to find the hero of my first novel,’ writes Siri Hustvedt at the beginning of Memories of the Future. An experimental bildungsroman tracing the emergence of the writer-as-a-young-woman, it combines what appears to be straight memoir, notebook and diary material, autobiographical fiction and, just possibly, fictional fiction. Organising her 94-year-old mother’s move to assisted housing, the adult Hustvedt describes the discovery of notebooks she kept as a young woman forty years earlier, which include drafts of a novel. This subtly embedded inciting incident might be documentary fact or literary device – or a little of each. The reader has simply to play along, enjoying the deft and elegant writing while appreciating Hustvedt’s timely exploration of questions about authenticity, memory and demarcations of literary genre.

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

    • 'Since Dylan’s commercial and ideological heyday, the intrusion of sociology, semiology and post-structuralist thou… ,
    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,