Synopses & Reviews
What if you could suddenly remember everything that ever happened to you, every joy and every sorrow that you had ever endured? Would it be a blessing or a curse?
This is the fate of the residents of the town of Clarence, who fall under the spell of a strange and powerful drug that unlocks their memories. The past comes flooding back without the buffer of time, and the townspeople, young and old, find themselves awash in their own reminiscences of love and death, of war and childhood, of happiness they've experienced, and sins they've committed.
This tender, witty first novel accompanies the people of Clarence on their journey into the past: There is psychology professor and single father Bennie, who has devoted his life to his eight-year-old daughter, Sophie; his mother, Madeline, hwo is being courted by a kind of widower with his own secrets; and Susannah, who moved to Clarence for love but becomes frozen with longing for the family she left behind. Even as the weight of the past threatens to overwhelm them, what also emerges are memories of startling joy, potent recollections of loved ones lost and now found again.
Beautifully rendered with a light comic touch, this bittersweet novel is about more than the sum of its beguiling parts. Spilling Clarence explores our relationship with our histories, the seductive pull of regret, the unreliability of meomry, and the bliss of forgetting. A univers people by exquisitely drawn characters, Spilling Clarence is a moving introduction to the impressive talents of an exciting new writer.
"Anne Ursu's writing is effervescent. She manages to fill her sentences with so much light and life that every page in Spilling Clarence is a dazzling event." Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto and The Magician's Assistant
"Oh, what a book! Haunting, heartbreaking and, at turns, very, very funny, Ursu's Spilling Clarence is about regret, loss, love and, most particularly, the power of our memories the ones we desperately cling to, and the ones we'd give our very soulds to be able to forget. People with a cast of characters as indelible as a waking dream, and written in pitch-perfect prose, Spilling Clarence is a profoundly original exploration of what it means to be human." Caroline Leavitt, author of Coming Back to Me
"What a pleasure it is to discover not just a splendidly inventive, witty and highly intelligent novel, which Spilling Clarence certainly is, but also a bright new writer, Anne Ursu, whose debut makes me happy to anticipate our future together anything she writes, I'll read." Katharine Weber, author of Objects in the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear and The Music Lesson
"The former theater critic for City Pages, Ursu is a writer who cares deeply about her characters, and her descriptions of professor Bennie Singer's haunting flashbacks of his wife's fatal car accident and his tender interactions with his daughter, Sophie, are very moving. Other players include Singer's mother, who must reconcile an unsatisfying marriage and open herself to the possibilities of new romance, while her crush, Calvin, is literally floored by vivid images of war. Lots of pop culture references to life in middle-America lend a comic touch." Christine Perkins, Library Journal
About the Author
Anne Ursu was raised in Minneapolis and graduated from Brown University. She has worked at a major book retailer, as the theater critic for City Pages (Minneapolis), and as a n arts writer for the Portland (Maine) Phoenix. She lives in Mountain View, California, where she is at work on her second novel.