My Memories of a Future Life by Roz Morris is a most interesting exploration of deception, manipulation, and obsession. Morris writes with what seems to me a great gentleness. The topics undergirding her story are not gentle. The perversions that are brought about through obsession, be that religious, artistic, or deceptive are gritty and real It is her prose that leads me through the dark undercurrents with artistry. She reveals the tensions, failings, perversions, and triumphs with words the way a composer employs the pallet of notes at her disposal.
I must admit that I had difficulty liking the protagonist (Carol) for a good portion of the book. Wait – not to panic! It is a personal thing. Carol illustrates what I see as an aberration of talent and calling. I knew someone who lost the ability to play without pain through an unexplained condition. Several doctors described it as psychosomatic. The result was a fixation with performance that resulted in a shriveled, snobby soul treating those who were less gifted with contempt and cruel derision. I put the novel aside for awhile. When I returned I realized my visceral reaction was little different than Carol’s – a defensive spasm in the face of anxiety.
Morris alludes to one definition of music that I believe to be true; the codification of emotion felt by a composer that can be released and felt when played. My Memories of a Future Life does that. Roz codifies despair, obsession, perversion, triumph, and reconciliation in a composition crafted more like a Bach fugue than the chance operations of Cage.