Theories of Forgetting is a narrative composed of three parts. The first involves the story of Alana, a filmmaker struggling to complete a short experimental documentary about Robert Smithson's famous earthwork, The Spiral Jetty, in the wake of having fallen victim to a pandemic called The Frost. The second involves the story of her husband, Hugh, owner of a bookstore in Salt Lake City, and his slow disappearance in Jordan while on a trip there both to remember and to forget. His vanishing may well be linked to the Sleeping Beauties, a rising global religious cult that worships barbiturates. The third involves the marginalia added to Hugh's section by his daughter, Aila, an art critic living in Berlin. Aila discovers a manuscript by her father after his disappearance and tries to make sense of it by means of a one-sided "dialogue" with her estranged brother, Lance.
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San Francisco Book Review
Theories of Forgetting offers us multiple moments of skilled, gifted, and inspired narration.
Lance Olsen is the literary astronaut we dreamt of being when we were children.
Salt Lake Underground
Lance Olsen's Theories of Forgetting is a remarkably fugue-like ode to the intricacies of memory. Offering two intersecting stories about illness, loss and forgetting, with annotations, this is an extremely smart and moving book about how our lives wind snail-like around one another as they risk flindering away into absence or death.