Being Henry David by Cal Armistead

Being Henry David

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Imagine being 17 years old and randomly waking up on the floor at Penn Station with no memory — not even your own name.  “Hank” awoke with only the clothes on his back, $10 in his pocket, and a paperback book.  I put Hank in quotes because it wasn’t his real name; it was just a name he assumed because he needed to think of a name quickly and the book he carried was Walden by Henry David Thoreau.  When the police came over to settle a scuffle between Hank and a mentally ill man who was trying to eat his book, he told them his name was Henry David… I mean, it would probably have been a little awkward to try and explain to the police that he didn’t know who he was — and Hank wasn’t sure whether it would be good or bad to be figured out and sent back home.  I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of amnesia, and I needed to know who Hank really was and why he lost his memory, so I was hooked from the start.  Although it was frustrating to experience things from Hank’s side, not knowing what had happened, it helped me to get into Hank’s head and to better appreciate his heartbreak as his memories began to return.  I thought this was a brilliant story about personal discovery and self-forgiveness.

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