REVIEW: MEMENTO MORI, BY MURIEL SPARK

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The author shines a spotlight on the thoughts and preoccupations of an aging population in the story Memento Mori (New Directions Classic).

Set in England in the 1950s, we meet the elderly characters residing sometimes on their own, or with a spouse, or in nursing homes. In all cases, their fears of those who would ignore them or harm them are articulated as persecutions. One specific persecution takes the form of anonymous phone calls with the message: “Remember you must die.”

As each person experiences the calls, he or she describes the caller’s voice to the police. But they all report something different. Eventually, it seems likely that the calls are a form of hallucination that stems from a preoccupation with death and loss.

Some consider this tale to be a kind of dark comedy, and while I found the characters interesting and very realistically developed, having known people from this age group whose preoccupations have turned to paranoia at times, I soon tired of the tale and was happy to finally come to its end. 3.0 stars.

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