‘Trial’ by Jonathan Taylor

Much of Jonathan’s work is concerned with neurology and memory, and this short story is no exception. 

With its slight nod to Oliver Sacks’s The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, this story is structured as a series of diary entries charting the progress of a patient in a scientific trial. Narrated from the patient’s partner’s point of view, we learn of his undiagnosed neurological disorder, one that has left him unable to recognise faces. The narrative is both compelling and devastating. You said, Doc, it’s all because of a damaged “dorsal pathway” to the facial processor. You said the damage might be caused by Lewybodies, the L-Dopa he takes, or it might even be the ECT he had as a boy. You said these things move, so to speak, in mysterious ways – more things in heaven and earth, et cetera et cetera. You showed me the MRI scan, and I said I didn’t understand.Taylor masterfully flits between the empathy and the distress and often the outright frustration of the narrator, then leaves us bereft, with a delicately dark twist of an ending. 

First published in Lunate Literary Magazine, April 2020, here.You can also find links to Jonathan’s work here