Book Review by Dennis Moore
Nicole Beaudry has written an iconic and entertaining novel that invokes humor, tenderness, sensuality, intrigue, suspense, and, above all, the acceptance that, having reached our golden years, once around is more than enough, Sweet Memories. This author and painter, born in Canada, has given us a novel that titillates the soul, as well as the libido.
Beaudry's book is best explained through her paintings. As the multi-media female her father once admonished for being too adventurous, jumping from trees, her paintings and artwork style says much about this book's author. The Sweet Memories bookcover was actually created from one of her paintings. These paintings, as in her writing, expresses her visualization of a world that may be real or ethereal, as she states herself. As a writer, Beaudry indicates, the imaginary intertwines, exploring plausible in an unrestricted and colorful setting. That is the type of ride that the author takes you on in Sweet Memories.
Sweet Memories is a fictional novel set in the year 2020 in and around San Diego, and neuroscience now enables memory chip implants in the human brain to have people living vicariously through others. Several retirees, bored with residence life at the Leucadia Retirement Home, choose donor chips they believe will enrich and fulfill. It reminds me of the 1990 movie, "Total Recall," starring Arnold Schwarzgenegger, when a man goes for virtual memories of the planet Mars, an unexpected and harrowing series of events forces him to go to the planet for real. With a background in Canadian films and screenwriting, perhaps Beaudry's Sweet Memories will follow in the steps of "Total Recall."
What started out as a great idea soon deteriorates as they discover sweet memories are often not so sweet. The retirees have unwittingly become corporate marketing pawns and will suffer the extreme consequences.
Sweet Memories is an intriguing interface between the imaginary and true-life stories of its main characters - the memory chip recipients and the chip donors themselves.
When there's nothing left in life other than a television screen with wildlife replays, dozing in a wheelchair, what does an eighty-four-year-old woman do? Life at the Leucadia Residence might have been boring...but it was peaceful. Who wouldn't want to to take a chance at adding some substance, some meaning, to a moribund and wheelchair bound life, even if it is through memory chips implanted under the skin from donors who are the actual people of which this subtance and meaning is derived? This is the premise of Beaudry's book.
The central characters in this story are actually the senior citizens of the Leucadia Retirement Home, who bargains the remaining years of their lives away to a neuroscience company, Brainwave, Inc., to add meaning to their waning years. These senior citizens, Colette, Nancy and Herb Dillon, attempt to model and relive their earlier lives through donated experiences and memories of others.
Colette, oddly enough, chooses to have a memory transplant of a Frenchman with the latitude of coming and going at will, to perhaps have extra-marital affairs, to be a free agent in control of his life, as compensation for what she felt in an earlier one-sided life with her husband.
The author delivers a poetic and erotic scene on pages 72 and 73, which is so sensual that it has readers thinking that they have been administered the very chip implant by "Brainwave, Inc.," that is the subject and premise of this fascinating book.
Beaudry paints a vivid and tantalizing picture of Colette's role-reversal, through memory transplant borrowed from a live and actual donor, as she states: "Their kisses are off-center and their bodies on fire, their sweat fusing with the scent of the flowers placed by the bed. The bedsprings resound an allegretto and then are in full orchestral largo, the trombone, a sole wail, followed by multiple accordian chords pumping fast from Helen's chest. Her reedy voice gets louder and louder until, much like synchronized fireworks, they shoot off seconds apart, filling the sky with explosions and arcing lights." Mind you, this is an experience of an 80-year-old plus resident of a retirement community, made possible through donor memory transplant and neuroscience. A very imaginative and thought-provoking book!
Herb Dillon's memory chip implants takes on a decidedly different and unexpected twist. In the midst of all this, corporate rivalry becomes a factor. Herb finds himself drifting in and out of the memory chip of a Greg and that of the memory chip donor, Bill Cunningham, with Herb feeling his life being threatened. Needless to say, Herb goes back to Brainwave, requesting that the chip be removed, and a full refund of his $125.000.00 be made.
Lest I give too much of this brilliantly conceived book away, suffice it to say, Sweet Memories is a book that will be hard for you to put down even for a minute, a book that I highly recommend.
Dennis Moore is a member of the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild. He is also the book review editor of SDWriteway, as well as a writer and book reviewer with the East County Magazine in San Diego, along with being a freelance contributor to the San Diego Union-Tribune Newspaper.