Thursday, March 3, 2016


Title:  Liar
Author:  Rob Roberge
Publication Information:  Crown. 2016. 272 pages.
ISBN:  0553448064 / 978-0553448061

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "You have your first girlfriend and you are, as far as your ten-year-old self knows, madly in love."

Favorite Quote:  "Knowing something may make it a fact, but feeling something makes it a truth."

Our memories are not linear. Our memories are not fact, but they are our truth. Our memories are a compilation of the big things in our lives and of all the ordinary minutiae of our lives. Our memories are of events that happen to us and of the events of the world that impact us. Our memories, to some extent, define who we are.

These are all concepts most of us realize and understand. The question to think about is what would happen if we were to lose those memories? Who would we be? If we knew we would lose our memories, which ones would we try and preserve?

Rob Roberge's memoir Liar is his answer to these questions. This book represents the memories he seeks to preserve, knowing that he has a progressive disorder that may over time destroy his memories.

Memory is not linear, and that fact is abundantly clear in the style of this book. The book is divided into chapters although I am not sure why; the chapter don't seem to serve a purpose. Within the chapters are short, dated snapshots of events and thoughts. These are not chronological and not even topical. They drift as memories and thoughts do. This does make the book difficult to follow. A chronological story would not have the same impact as this one, but at the same time, I wish I had a chronological cheat sheet to put some of the snapshots into context. A picture of life emerges from these snapshots, but I wish I had a frame to put around that picture.

Memory is often the rose-colored glasses through which we see our lives. Not in this book though. If you have the choice to preserve memories, would you preserve the most joyous moments of your life or the painful ones or both? Rob Roberge has lived most of his life with mental illness and a drug addiction. His struggle is clearly the focus of this book, and many of these memories are not happy, pleasant ones.  Rather, much of the content is dark and disturbing. These are memories he is choosing to preserve and share. So, this book is not just about saving all his memories; it is about selectively presenting the memories that document his challenges with mental illness and addiction.

Reflecting on a memory is sometimes like watching a movie play in your head; you watch your own self in that past. This book has somewhat the same feel. Rob Roberge chooses to tell his story in the third person - "you" - reinforcing that point. You are the topic of this book; you are the main character. This is your life. At the beginning, I am not sure this approach will work for an entire book, but it does. The writing style serves to pull the reader into the book and the situation. I know that the book is not about me, but, at the same time, I am personally engaged by the word "you."

We know that memories are not fact but only our truth. With Rob Roberge's history of mental illness, his memories tinged by drug-induced phenomena, and his illness, he realizes that not only are his memories only his truth but also that he is even unable to see them as true. They may be or not. Hence, in seeking to preserve his truth of life, Rob Roberge's book becomes Liar.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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