As children, with our lives ahead of us, we wonder ‘what if?’—what if that squirrel could talk, what if I had wings, what if Mommy and Daddy disappeared and I could live in my house all alone and eat dessert any time I wanted. As time passes and the past comes to trail behind we turn this sense of fantasy away from the present back to the past. ‘What if’ becomes ‘what if I had’—moved to Panama, quit smoking, walked away that night, told him I loved him. No child ever wished for a pony half so hard as your average adult wishes to have the chance to rectify an error, supplement a conversation, salvage some lost portion of our lives.
It is no wonder, then, that genre fiction has always been interested in memory—which, after all, has a far closer kinship with fantasy than fact. The Seventh Perfection is a book about a woman with perfect recollection seeking to untangle truth from the twisted strands of history (both personal and societal), and the consequences which spring from this single minded obsession.
Here are five other books likewise fascinated (tormented?) by memory.