The (Re)Identification of (Collective) Memory, Part II

I pick up today where I left off yesterday.

* * * * *
Across the Ironic Distance: Negotiating the Narrative Gaps

Each of the ten stories in Where Nothing Is Long Ago deals with the protagonist’s (Budge’s) efforts to negotiate her way into this awareness and through or into some aspect of life in a tight-knit, largely orthodox Mormon community and with the narrator’s attempts to bring order to her younger self’s experience and to mediate between this experience, her continuing participation in/observation of this community, and the reader’s world. The title story–the sequence’s opening narrative–centers on a fictionalized murder over water rights as committed by Brother Tolsen, one of the early twentieth century Danish Mormon village’s most respectable and orthodox men. The story opens with the narrator quoting from something her “mother wrote [her] recently”: “You’ll probably remember Brother Tolsen and that awful thing that happened when you were a little girl.” Then the narrator offers this exposition, “Her fat script traveled the whole way around the photograph and obituary she had clipped from our Mormon newspaper,” and another statement from her mother: “The killing wasn’t even mentioned at his funeral. All the speakers just said what a good man he always was” (3) This interaction between the narrator, her community (through her mother’s “script,” which is “fat” with implications), and her past frames not just the story, prompting wonder over who Brother Tolsen is and what awful thing he may have been involved in, but the entire sequence of stories, episodes that ripple outward from this fundamental interface (between narrator, community, and memory) and that embody the semiotic systems of this community, especially its maintenance and perpetuation through the acts of remembering, including story-telling and ritual. Continue reading “The (Re)Identification of (Collective) Memory, Part II”