An Addictive Memory Drug Destroys Lives

A designer drug called Mem has become an addictive, underground sensation: people take it to relive their memories so vividly that it's as if they're actually back in the past. Dying cancer patients take it to feel like they are running a race at the age of 18, and washed-up university professors take it to re-experience the days when learning felt like a pleasure. Mem is the bizarre invention of writer Pagan Kennedy, whose novel Confessions of a Memory Eater explores how easy it is to become addicted to your own past.

The novel focuses on Win Duncan, an aging academic who becomes a beta-tester for Mem and quickly gets addicted to his old memories of being in graduate school, enjoying his job, and falling in love with his wife. Each time he returns to the present, he's more disturbed by how drab and awful his life has become. He joins a sad ring of Mem addicts who spend their weekends on Mem trips, reliving glory days and trying to escape middle age. At the heart of the ring is the drug's mysterious inventor, Litminov, who begins disappearing for days at a time, leaving Duncan without his fix.

Confessions of a Memory Eater is a disturbing meditation on growing old and becoming disenchanted with everything your young self once yearned for. At the same time, it's great science fiction, its narrative propelled by a pharmaceutical fabulation that you can almost imagine buying, one day, from your dealer.

Confessions of a Memory Eater [Leapfrog Press]