In Search of Lost Time

Karen Heuler. Aqueduct, $12 trade paper (132p) ISBN 978-1-61976-125-4
This skimpy novella is an ambling meditation on cancer, time, and memory. Hildy receives a cancer diagnosis at the age of 47. After she begins chemo treatments, she starts seeing auras of the people and animals around her: thin and misty from the elderly and the ill, and robust and overflowing from the young. The auras are tangible, and she realizes that she can capture them in glass jars and breathe them in, inhaling others’ memories and emotions. When she learns that auras are people’s time, Hildy gets drawn into a dangerous game between those who want time and those who want to supply it—or rather, to sell it. This story is strongest when it’s an unconventional cancer narrative; Heuler (Other Places) has a knack for describing the complex emotions and complicated interactions of the sick and dying. But despite Hildy’s diagnosis, her tale lacks urgency. The nature of temporality is considered from every possible angle, through endless dialectical inquiry, and the plot seems primarily to be a vessel for Heuler’s taxonomy of time. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/08/2017
Genre: Fiction
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