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Brain on Fire

Do you remember who you are? Amnesia on the page

in Nonfiction by

“I don’t remember any of what I’m about to tell you.” That jolting line begins Su Meck’s 2014 memoir, I Forgot to Remember. Meck suffered a rare case of complete retrograde amnesia, known as “Hollywood amnesia” because it occurs more in movies than in real life. She has absolutely no memories between her birth in 1965 and May 22, 1988. On that day she was playing with her son in their kitchen when a ceiling fan fell on her head. Much of the book’s early section is reconstructed from hospital medical records. Having entered with partial paralysis, horrible headaches, and extremely limited vocabulary, Meck improved enough that doctors released her within three weeks, recording that her long-term memory “seems fairly…

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