Anne Ursu Spilling Clarence: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780786867783

Spilling Clarence: A Novel

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9780786867783: Spilling Clarence: A Novel

What if you could suddenly remember everything that ever happened in your life Would it be a blessing -- or a curse

The answer is found in Spilling Clarence, a satisfying, witty, romantic, and tender novel. In the fictional town of Clarence, Minnesota, a breakroom microwave sparks a smoky fire at the pharmaceutical factory and triggers a massive chemical spill. Panic-stricken and paralyzed, the townspeople wait until the all-clear signal to assure them everything's back to normal. Except that it isn't. Over the coming days, the citizens of Clarence fall under the spell of a strange and powerful drug that unlocks their memories. They become trapped by their own reminiscences: of love and death, of war and childhood, of family they've lost and sins they've committed.

Beautifully rendered with a light comic touch, this bittersweet first novel is about more than the sum of its beguiling parts. It's about the need to remember, and about the bliss of forgetting. A universe peopled by exquisitely drawn characters, Spilling Clarence is a funny, moving story with a truly original premise that introduces the impressive talents of an exciting new writer.

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Review:

In Anne Ursu's gracefully layered first novel, Spilling Clarence, a fire at a psychopharmaceutical plant releases a yellow cloud of psychoactive chemicals into the air of a sleepy college town named Clarence. Disturbing effects begin to show up in the townspeople, especially in the residents--mainly former professors--of the cleverly named Sunny Shadows retirement home. They find themselves remembering events and people they had long forgotten, or revisiting their favorite memories to find that new details have been recovered, a few of which they would rather have kept suppressed. Happiness is only sometimes a side effect of these startling recollections. In some ways, the chemical spill speeds along emotional processes that are already a staple of contemporary fiction: recovered memory, the discovery of unexpected connections, and the confrontation of the past. Some readers may find Ursu's plot too cinematic, but she is never glib or opportunistic. Like a good theorist, she pursues her idea to its logical, often surprising conclusion in the life of each of her characters. --Regina Marler

About the Author:

Anne Ursu was born in Minneapolis and graduated from Brown University. She has worked in the children's department of a major book retailer, as the theater critic for City Pages (Minneapolis), and as an arts writer for the Portland (Maine) Phoenix. She lives in Mountain View, California, where she is at work on her second novel.

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Anne Ursu
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