"Karen Heuler writes with tremendous empathy, precision, and insight about the human condition and the fragility of our place in the world. Forgetting is tunny and moving and irresistible" -Matthew Lansburgh. author of Outside Is the Ocean.
"Empathetic and honest. Karen Heuler's short storv collection spotlights ordinary people who grapple with the pain. frustration, and the absurdity of memory loss. At times thesestories are delightful and humorous, other times heartbreaking and jarring. Recommended for those who enjoy Elizabeth Stout's Olive Kitteridge and Alice Munro's short fiction. - Jen Conley, author of Seven Ways to Get Rid of Harrv.Winner of the Anthony Award.
"The stories in Karen Heuler's poignant collection are unified by senescence and dementia, but they also feature pyromaniacs, kidnappers, mobsters, lightning strikes, and one of the most original casts of characters in contemporary fiction... Forgetting is not just unforgeltable, but a haunting masterwork that will withstand the test of literary time"- Jacob M. Appel. author of Einstein's Beach House
--------------------------Selection from "That Place" in the collection:
Kidnapping her mother made Daisy feel terrific. Mildred was belted into the back seat, now that she'd been busted out of that place, and Daisy only wished she could see her brother Boniface's face when they told him that Mildred was gone.
That would take the stride off him.
Boniface always walked into a room as if he was going to plow right past it; when he did stop he swiveled his head and raised his eyebrows, as if to say, You called me in for this?
This time, of course, he'd swing his big head around that place with his eyes popping in surprise and chagrin. And just where did he get that big head? Daisy remembered him as a small boy with a coil of hair and an annoying presence that their mother thought was a joy and a jolt all at once. He got too much of everything, right from the start.
"You just wait, mother," Daisy said, "I'm taking you home and I'm keeping you home. You and me together again, oil and water, salt and pepper." Maybe not the best examples, but her mother didn't understand words anymore.
Daisy switched to the news channel on the radio. Of course it was too soon. She had signed her mother out for lunch and they would probably expect at least two hours for that, so maybe three hours before anyone wondered; maybe four hours before they called Boniface. And indeed they would call Boniface; his name was on all of mother's papers. Although Daisy was the firstborn.
Her car had started up on the fifth try—not as good a sign as starting on the third try, but good enough. She had rapped her knuckles on the wheel lightly and then blown them off—a little mindless ritual that seemed to work well enough, if mindless rituals were ever supposed to actually work. And once she started, she felt like a wild woman, off on a secret mission, a little reckless and bold, bold being pure guesswork since it was the first time she'd tried it.
She allowed a little fantasy of a shootout, just for fun, then got back to reality. "You know where we're going?" she said cheerfully to Mildred once she got her belted into the back seat. "Home! I'm taking you home!" She waited for some recognition, and got nothing. She was used to nothing.
Still, she hoped to hear it on the radio—daughter steals mother from dementia ward. Not ward. Assisted living situation. Not the same ring as ward. She hoped they said ward.
She should probably tell her daughter, Ellabelle, so she wouldn't worry, though when had Ellabelle ever worried?
Ellabelle was a grown woman married and divorced and on her second marriage and in some ways sharper and less personal about life than Daisy was. Not less personal; how could she mean less personal; wasn't everyone "personal" about their own lives? But she knew what she meant. Boniface was like that too; he listened to Daisy, blinked, then said No and lost interest in the conversation, if she could call it a conversation. More like a call-and-response from the old days of some church where the churchgoers begged the Lord and the Lord said no.
So maybe Ellabelle was more closely related to Boniface than to Daisy by some sort of random genetic crapshoot, that wouldn't come as a surprise. Boniface got everything; for example, that business of him being on all the legal documents; Boniface attracted power like a magnet sucked up paper clips.
She pulled into the parking lot behind her mother's condo. The car made an extra little noise, and not a pleasant one.
"Okay, now, we're home again," she said in a loud voice, in case the car could hear. "You stay right there." She had to make sure her mother didn't get out first and scoot off—Mildred had a way of heading for cover and disappearing. She was happy to kidnap her mother; she just didn't want to lose her mother.
She opened the back door and grabbed her mother's wrist. Mother didn't look at her; her eyes flitted around and around. Maybe this was joy?
The whole kidnapping idea had popped in her head the last time she had visited Mildred in that place, which wasn't a bad place, filled as her mother's room was with the furniture Boniface had taken from her mother's condo, furniture that Daisy had hoped would be hers. Well, it could be hers—she could take mother and eventually her mother's furniture back home, and in fact, move some of her own stuff in as well. Let's see what Boniface does then, she thought. Him and his power of attorney; I doubt the law would say that he can do anything to a daughter taking care of her mother. And if I move her back and stay with her—well, even if I ask to be paid, that's got to be cheaper than whatever he's paying for that place. Good place, but is it better than her having her own home, her own daughter? ...
(continued in the collection. Daisy makes a few mistakes, but who doesn't make a few mistakes?)
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