Other People’s Countries: a journey into memory

19 June 2014 | by Patrick McGuinness

This is a wonderful book about memory and place, how they interact in our imagination and how our affective life is inseparable from our connection to the place in question. Here, the memories revolve around Patrick McGuinness’ accumulated visits to a small Belgian town. He has a deep, visceral attachment to the town’s essence, and Other People’s Countries explores what this means to him in terms of family, growing up and the passing of time. Having been going to the same place since childhood (his mother was Belgian), he enjoys – or suffers – a sense of inhabiting a “parallel universe”, a feeling of belonging but not belonging, of intimacy and detachment. The house he visited as a child and still goes to is a metaphor for memory, every room redol

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