On the surface, Remember by Cristian Mihai appears to be another tale of unrequited love and the inability to cope with it. However, Mihai’s stylistic choices make this story stand out in a positive way.
What I Thought Worked Well
Theme, Characters, and Plot
The characterization and form of Remember complement each other very well. For instance, the story details a heartbroken protagonist’s despair at being stuck in the friend zone, battling both his memory and his “introverted” personality through the epistolary literary form. He writes to an alleged friend named “Dexter,” wishing to keep the memory of when he brushed lips with a former classmate of his at a party. The sensation, the narrator describes, is like an ice cube melting, and soon after it melts, searing warmth takes its place (Mihai).
As he struggles to remember, and also to forget, his unrequited love, he urges “Dexter” that he is not introverted or lonely. Yet in the story he tells to “Dexter” about reuniting with his unrequited in Rome, he clearly displays signs of loneliness and lack of confidence. In these contradictions, lovely character development happens, and Mihai has a deft hand for it.
The rest of the plot, as a result, is fairly smooth and straightforward.
What I Thought Didn’t Work Well
Style and Setting
There were, however, times when I thought the intimacy established as the narrator writes to “Dexter” was challenged or compromised. For example, most of the time, setting and sensory details were not described. This is not to say the lack of details were problematic to the point where the story could not function, but for a story about remembering and sensation, I wondered how close I would come to experiencing exactly what the narrator experienced at the party, coffee shop, or hotel in the ending scene.
In addition, I was baffled by one of the final details in the story. The woman that the narrator loves is described as a brunette for the majority of the story, but her hair is described as black at the end. I am not sure if this change in hair color signals the narrator’s acceptance of losing his memories of her, but if it is, I find it a fascinating choice.
More sensory and memory play throughout the story, I think, would have strengthened the story even more.
This is the first work of Mihai’s that I’ve read, and I can say that his writing is what I like to call certified CPD, or “can’t-put-down.” I enjoyed Remember, and I look forward to more.