You Lost Me There, is certainly intriguing. An Alzheimer researcher wrestles with his own rememories. But his problem is not that he's losing his memory. It's that he can't remember things accurately or definitively or with the same assignation of value as others. And this causes him quite a bit of consternation. Indeed, it nearly ruins his life.
Dr. Victor Aaron's wife Sara has been dead for several years -- perishing in a car crash soon after a reconciliation of their rocky marriage. To cope, Victor has lost himself in his research on a small island off the coast of Maine. When he finds some notecards Sara had written in therapy during a rough patch in their marriage, he's astounded to learn that what she had considered the signature events of their marriage, he can barely remember at all. "If two people have the same experience, but remember it differently, what does that say about their respective minds?" Victor wonders.
That's an easy one, isn't it? The answer is that respective minds are simply different; they see and experience the world differently. Not exactly earth-shattering, is it? But that's the idea Baldwin dwells on for the whole of the novel, and so, to me, the story didn't live up to the intrigue of its original set-up. Besides that reason, the novel fell a bit flat because Victor is such a dunderhead. He's humorless. He's a bore. And he's totally oblivious. Not good qualities for a protagonist, in my view. Furthermore, this novel finally made me understand the book reviewer cliche word "uneven." To emphasize the idea of the inconsistency of memories, Baldwin constantly jumps back and forth in his character's lives, often from paragraph to paragraph, between memories and real-time. The effect is that you're constantly a bit off balance trying to place the memories in some sort of chronology to construct a bigger picture of these characters' lives. Some clunky dialogue (Victor, confused, always asks "What are you talking about?") and some first-novel glitches (how does an early-20s girl who only brings a purple backpack for a summer stay suddenly have an evening gown and high heels?) also add to the sense of unevenness.
Finally, though, as Victor begins to slowly yank himself out of his malaise, helped along by some rather strange circumstances (a dream-like conversation with his dead wife, i.e.), the novel does gain some momentum and becomes a bit more fun. There are some very well-rendered and affecting final scenes which don't altogether save the novel, but do show Baldwin's promise as a writer.
To sum up what I consider to be about a three-star novel, it'd be really easy to make a joke like "No, Mr. Baldwin, you actually lost ME there," but I won't. (even though I just did...Did you laugh? No? Damn.) This definitely wasn't my favorite book ever, but I'd say if you're interested in getting in on the ground floor of a writer from whom you'll surely hear, I'd recommend You Lost Me There for that reason.