The Perpetual Now: A Story of Amnesia, Memory, and Love (Hardcover)

The Perpetual Now: A Story of Amnesia, Memory, and Love By Michael D. Lemonick Cover Image
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In the aftermath of a shattering illness, Lonni Sue Johnson lives in a "perpetual now," where she has almost no memories of the past and a nearly complete inability to form new ones. The Perpetual Now is the moving story of this exceptional woman, and the groundbreaking revelations about memory, learning, and consciousness her unique case has uncovered.

Lonni Sue Johnson was a renowned artist who regularly produced covers for The New Yorker, a gifted musician, a skilled amateur pilot, and a joyful presence to all who knew her. But in late 2007, she contracted encephalitis. The disease burned through her hippocampus like wildfire, leaving her severely amnesic, living in a present that rarely progresses beyond ten to fifteen minutes.
     Remarkably, she still retains much of the intellect and artistic skills from her previous life, but it's not at all clear how closely her consciousness resembles yours or mine. As such, Lonni Sue's story has become part of a much larger scientific narrative—one that is currently challenging traditional wisdom about how human memory and awareness are stored in the brain.
     In this probing, compassionate, and illuminating book, award-winning science journalist Michael D. Lemonick uses the unique drama of Lonni Sue Johnson's day-to-day life to give us a nuanced and intimate understanding of the science that lies at the very heart of human nature.

About the Author

MICHAEL D. LEMONICK is the Opinion Editor at Scientific American. He has written more than 50 Time magazine cover stories on science, and has written for National Geographic, The New Yorker and other publications. This is his seventh book.

Praise For…

"A well-researched, engaging and accessible combination of brain science an biography... Lemonick brilliantly employs this lens, placing Lonni Sue’s story in a personal and scientific context that keeps the reader engaged throughout...At once smart and approachable, The Perpetual Now is an inspiring story of human resilience and scientific progress, a reminder that great triumphs are often borne of great tragedies. Expect an education in memory research, but also expect a gorgeous and memorable testament to the fact that we are far more than our memories."
--The Huffington Post

"Through sharing Johnson’s compelling story, Lemonick delivers a fascinating lesson that deepens our appreciation for our own memories."
--Real Simple

"Lemonick does an excellent job of explaining why Lonni Sue's 'enormous storehouse of knowledge' regarding visual art, music and aviation made her an especially rich research subject...[A] very diligent reporter...the story of Lonni Sue, one of the great experiments of nature, is intrinsically fascinating."
--Washington Post

"Watching Lonni Sue and her family reconstruct her life under nearly impossible circumstances is an enthralling story of patience, determination and love, and the bonus is that it's also a window into the emerging science of how the brain makes, stores and recalls memories. You'll never think about your own brain in the same way again."
--Dan Fagin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Tom's River

"The Perpetual Now is a fascinating and artful book that takes us deep into the most mysterious labyrinth in nature, the human brain. We meet Lonni Sue Johnson, an artist with profound amnesia, who lost her ability to form or recall memories, and we meet Johnson’s loving family and the scientists who have studied brain for many years, probing the mystery of memory."
 --Richard Preston, New York Times bestselling author of The Hot Zone and The Wild Trees
Product Details
ISBN: 9780385539661
ISBN-10: 0385539665
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: February 7th, 2017
Pages: 304
Language: English