The Memory House: A Review

The Memory House: A Review

Joseph Stark , Contributing Writer

“But hearing my mother tell this story reminded me, the secret language we shared, the cultural web our parents wove long before us. Ancestral roots tangled so deep, my memory lost them.” 

I’m sure many have at one point or another wondered about the histories of their family, of their bloodline. What hidden stories would you never even imagine, for simple lack of asking? The Memory House by Raki Kopernik is a poetic and spacious reenactment of the memories and events which rocked her family throughout several generations, all stories from the people involved. As difficult a task it is to so thoroughly document generations of lives, Kopernik handles it eloquently and fluidly throughout. 

A book founded on memories shared by birth and home. Kopernik’s intent was that it would be historical fiction – however, she turned it into a carefully woven quilt that blanketed and brought together generations of experiences of a Hebrew family from the Second World War to their highest living in America. Kopernik captures in few words a clear translation of memories shared across borders and eras for anyone to understand. 

Kopernik’s work is short – around one hundred thirty pages – and she leaves much empty space on her pages. However, making minimal use of the pages of the book allows her to draw greater focus towards the meaning of her words and their place on the paper. Her clever use of the “less is more” writing style makes for a subtle yet powerful approach to what might otherwise be a very lengthy book. 

The central idea of the book, to me, seems to be an argument for shared cultural experiences and a lack of borders between humanity. Kopernik expresses that many of her thoughts regarding the events in the book were set – she only expected a confirmation of her memories, nothing more. She was shocked when set memories were turned around when spoken of from her parents’ perspectives. Kopernik then imbued into the work her wish for people to share their memories – personal, familial, historical, and otherwise. 

This book makes for a wonderful example of cultural phenomena and the effects it has on the both the individual and the collective. To pack all these memories into one book, Kopernik employed a minimalistic style inspired by her experience in poetry to condense as much meaning into her writing as possible. The experimental chronology of this book lends itself further to her intent of sharing memories while maintaining itself as one work, with one perspective. Educational, universal, and poetic; while Kopernik expresses her views on events, she also tells things simply as they are so that one draws their own interpretations – something that I, personally, appreciate in any work.