The Former Lives of Buildings is a novel about thirty-one-year-old architect Adelle Corey. Adelle is a woman in denial. A nightmare figure called the Baron steals memories of her closest relationships and most poignant experiences. He hides the memories in Adelle’s dreams, where he reconstructs them into buildings. The only way she can recover the memories is by cutting or tattooing these buildings into her skin. Adelle uses notebooks, mnemonic devices, and academic trivia to keep track of her daily routines. The novel takes place in contemporary times and opens in the burn unit of Bridgeport Hospital, Connecticut, where Adelle has been recovering for two months. She does not remember her stay prior to the opening day of the story, but she retains her memories from this day forward. Adelle’s parents, her husband, and the mysterious woman Celesse St. Armand, who has been given charge over her care, refuse to allow Adelle to see her six-year-old son, Ben, until she can recover the missing days. Adelle suspects that something has happened to Ben. She seeks the help of Sam, her tattoo artist, to recover memories. The search uncovers painful truths about Adelle’s childhood and marriage, ultimately forcing her to face that the Baron is a device she created to protect herself, not an outside force acting upon her. Adelle goes from a lonely, untrusting existence to a willingness to form deep friendships. She gains the capacity to face the whole truth instead of selecting only the comfortable parts. She does not find her son in any of the buildings. However, confronting the experiences hidden there gives her the strength to accept that she has passed her memory problems on to her son, who has not been able to remember his family since the fire. Although their marriage does not survive, Adelle and De learn to work together as parents.
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Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic, Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities,
Duvall-Francisco, Bethany, "The Former Lives Of Buildings" (2013). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2959.