When Clingman was two, he underwent an operation to remove a birthmark under his right eye. The operation failed, and the birthmark returned, but in somewhat altered form. In his book, Clingman takes the fact of that mark – its appearance, disappearance and return – as a guiding motif of memory. This is how we remember the worlds we are born into, how they become a set of images in the mind, surfacing and resurfacing across time and space. South Africa under apartheid was itself governed by the markings of birth – the accidents of color, race, and skin.
In this narrative set on three continents, Stephen’s memories make up the hologram of the book’s subtitle. It is a story that is personal, painful, comic, and ultimately uplifting: a book not so much of the coming of age, but the coming of perspective.
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