Book review: 'Theories of Forgetting' may not be meant to be und - New York News

Book review: 'Theories of Forgetting' may not be meant to be understood

Updated:
By University of Alabama Press. "Theories of Forgetting" is by Lance Olsen. By University of Alabama Press. "Theories of Forgetting" is by Lance Olsen.

By: Herb Scribner, Deseret News

"THEORIES OF FORGETTING," by Lance Olsen, University of Alabama Press, $22.95, 367 pages (f)

It's not surprising that “Theories of Forgetting” is a story worth forgetting.

Lance Olsen's novels tells three stories in a wacky, offbeat and ridiculous way that bring the reader down, around and through a rabbit hole of confusion. One story is of Alana, a filmmaker, another is of her husband, Hugh, and the last one a series of margin notes by Aila, Hugh's daughter. And it doesn't get any easier to understand from there.

The main problem with Olsen's book is that there's no easy way to begin reading. Both covers are the same, and page numbers start at both ends of the book, too. And while Hugh's story is written on one of the page with Aila's notes right beside, Alana's story is written on the opposite side of the page, causing the reader to flip the book entirely to read that story.

And while the layout is confusing in its own right, the stories, too, are unreadable. Hugh disappears from the world he's known, but he also brings up ideas from the world he has known, so there's no true understanding of where he is. Aila's tale is readable, since she's only writing notes, but even her notes don't always connect with the story. Alana's journal-like story is the best of the bunch, but ultimately it starts to get more and more confusing toward the end.

Olsen does save himself by adding some memorable quotes - like “Somebody will always be waiting for you who doesn't know he or she is waiting for you” - and does do well to show a familial connection.

But the book is hard to understand and keep up with to make it an enjoying read. There's a fair amount of curse words, too, and it does touch on some heavier themes that might be too deep for such a lightly written and off-beat novel. It's no question if Olsen settled on one of these stories and developed it more, then this novel would be fantastically done.

That might be the point of this, though. Life is a confusing and unsorted mess. And like Olsen’s story, maybe we’re not meant to understand it all.


Original Post

Copyright 2013 Deseret Digital Media, Inc.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Suspect, rookie officer both wounded in gunfire

    Suspect, rookie officer both wounded in gunfire

    Sunday, August 31 2014 10:11 PM EDT2014-09-01 02:11:38 GMT
    Authorities say an early morning gunfire exchange on a Brooklyn street has left the suspect hospitalized and a police officer with a graze wound.
    Authorities say an early morning gunfire exchange on a Brooklyn street has left the suspect hospitalized and a police officer with a graze wound.
  • New MTA bus routes take effect

    New MTA bus routes take effect

    Sunday, August 31 2014 9:51 PM EDT2014-09-01 01:51:36 GMT
    MTAMTA
    The MTA has new bus routes throughout the 5 boroughs. 
    The MTA has new bus routes throughout the 5 boroughs. 
  • 3 hurt in lightning strike as storms batter NYC area

    3 hurt in lightning strike as storms batter NYC area

    Sunday, August 31 2014 9:47 PM EDT2014-09-01 01:47:41 GMT
    Heavy thunderstorms swept through the tri-state on Sunday causing flash floods and lightning strikes that injured 3 people. The three men were struck at Orchard Beach in the Bronx Sunday afternoon and were being treated at a local hospital. Meanwhile, various Labor Day weekend celebrations were interrupted, delayed and even canceled as the U.S. Open tennis tournament had to be postponed and the Electric Zoo musical festival on Randall's Island had to be prematurely shut down.
    Heavy thunderstorms swept through the tri-state on Sunday causing flash floods and lightning strikes that injured 3 people. The three men were struck at Orchard Beach in the Bronx Sunday afternoon and were being treated at a local hospital. Meanwhile, various Labor Day weekend celebrations were interrupted, delayed and even canceled as the U.S. Open tennis tournament had to be postponed and the Electric Zoo musical festival on Randall's Island had to be prematurely shut down.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices