Finished 10-24-09, rating 4.5/5, fiction, pub. 2003 in Japanese & 2009 in English
In school, I had hated math so much that the mere sight of the textbook made me feel ill. But the things the Professor taught me seemed to find their way effortlessly into my brain – not because I was an employee anxious to please her employer but because he was such a gifted teacher. There was something profound in his love for math. And it helped that he forgot what he’d taught me before, so I was free to repeat the same question until I understood.
The mathematics Professor was in a car accident in 1975 and as a result he lost his short-term memory. Every 80 minutes his brain resets and the only memories he has are the ones made before the crash. He spends his days in a cottage on his sister-in-law’s property solving math problems for prize money. To make it through he writes notes on scraps of paper and pins them to his suit jacket, which he wears every day.
The Housekeeper, a single mom, is hired to take care of him and the cottage during the day. When she starts bringing her son, who the Professor nicknames Root, the three form a bond over math and baseball.
This Japanese story is charming and original. There are actual math problems in the book and not being a math lover myself (or maybe math doesn’t love me?) I was surprised at how I was drawn into the heartfelt story. There was beauty in the simplicity of the writing and in the math. I was rooting for these three who needed and loved each other. There were even some nice surprises to be found along the way.
I highly recommend this one.
This was a library copy.