‘Somewhere to Store All Those Memories’: Archive Fever in Simone Lazaroo’s Lost River


  • Susan Ash Edith Cowan University


memory, archive, hypomnesis, memorial, Simone Lazaroo, Jacques Derrida, Martin Heidegger


This article examines how the concept of the archive may operate as a generative rather than purely repressive space for a young Eurasian woman, Ruth, who is dying of breast cancer in Simone Lazaroo’s novel, Lost River: Four Albums. I build on the concept of hypomnesis which first appeared in Plato’s Phaedrus to distinguish between the oral and written forms of remembering, but has come to signify the wider act of turning memory into something concrete, a product emerging from the process of remembering and memorialising. The preamble announces the marginalised Eurasian woman’s decision to use four discarded photograph albums as ‘Somewhere to store all those memories’ for her child, Dewi, to have after the mother’s passing.  The narrative then follows a nonlinear structure where each of the four albums investigates the origins and meaning of Dewi’s life from her conception until her mother’s final moments. I argue that this act of domiciling lives in these albums operates as a form of counter history, comprising moments that tell an alternative story about belonging for the disenfranchised. That is, operating from the bottom, as a mother intimately familiar with the precarity of home, Ruth designs her archive to demonstrate how dwelling, if you get it ‘right,’ may lead to a sense of binding love, happiness, and home. To conclude, the essay explores how Derrida’s ideas about ‘archival desire’ help to illustrate the kind of ‘taking care’ Heidegger privileges in his writing on dwelling.