Let me start off by saying that The Memory Room by Christopher Koch was, by no means, boring or poorly written. I floated through it with a reasonable amount of enthusiasm, and once or twice I even became immersed it in. It does, however, lack credibility/consistency at many levels.
Yes, it’s about the intrinsic human obsession with secrecy, it’s about relationships. But it’s also a novel set at the end of the Cold War era, in a highly unstable world (politically, and otherwise) – and the three protagonists, who happen to work in Foreign Affairs at that time – hardly capture the fascinating world of secrecy and spies to which they are supposedly sworn.
I suspect this has something largely to do with the dysfunctional characters of Derek Bradley (who incidentally has two first names – the author just switches between them at his pleasure) and Erika Lange. One is too placid to be human, and the other is mentally unstable. Paranoia and insecurity is understandable in a girl who has been sexually assaulted, yet to this extreme? I don’t think so, Mr Koch.
The only character I half-liked was Vincent, and he was a bit off his rocker too. Another thing that I found slightly jarring was the clumsily handled present tense to past tense transitions. Really teeth-grindingly annoying. I really did want to enjoy this book; it has a beautiful cover, and I was delighted at its chunkiness. It was still a good read; far more enjoyable than that shoddy piece of pop-culture, Twilight, but it still failed to live up to expectations. I think that’s another book to tick off my 888 List.