For want of a new microwave…
The psychopharmaceutical plant at one end of Clarence has a small
fire when their ancient lunchroom micro spits out its last spark.
Then, a failure in the Emergency Procedures system leads to a
massive chemical spill of Deletrium, a drug whose only effect is
some serious mind messing. Nothing to fear, say the company
officials. We'll see.
Down the street, at Davis & Dean --- franchise bookseller with
in-store coffee shop --- patrons watch the ugly yellow smoke
descend upon their town. Understandably worried, they are skeptical
at the announcement that there is no imminent danger. Stay inside
for the next 24 hours, but aside from that, everything is fine,
they're told. Well, everything is definitely not fine.
Soon, the residents of this charming college village, located
somewhere in Minnesota, are besieged by their own memories. They
can remember every event that ever happened in their lives. For
some, the experience is distinctly unhealthy. For others, just
highly disruptive. Deep introspection is the best they can hope
At the same time she laces the lives of her characters together,
author Anne Ursu also separates them as they retreat to examine or,
in some cases, flee from their pasts. The townsfolk of Clarence,
after the spill, form a special bond, one that is not apparent to
them until they emerge from the mental fog that temporarily blurs
their vision. Complex and diverse, the characters draw you into
their lives with the author's cinematic style. Anne Ursu has
fashioned a sampling of society and allows us a peek at their
innermost desires and dreads.
Bennie Singer, a psychology professor at local Mansfield
University, becomes immersed in grief for his dead wife, rendering
him almost inert, while his nine-year-old daughter Sophie fights
her own battles and, in ironic reversal, cares for her father and
grandmother. Meanwhile, Bennie's mother sequesters herself with her
thoughts and emotions, ultimately drawing the strength to sna