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Calendar of Regrets

Lance Olsen

Publication Year: 2010

Calendar of Regrets is a wildly inventive and visually rich collage of twelve interconnected narratives, one for each month of the year, all pertaining to notions of travel—through time, space, narrative, and death.

 

The poisoning of the painter Hieronymus Bosch; anchorman Dan Rather’s mysterious mugging on Park Avenue as he strolls home alone one October evening; a series of postcard meditations on the idea of travel from a young American journalist visiting Burma; a husband-and-wife team of fundamentalist Christian suicide bombers; the myth of Iphigenia from Agamemnon’s daughter’s point of view—these and other stories form a mosaic, connected through a pattern of musical motifs, transposed scenes, and recurring characters. It is a narrative about narrativity itself, the human obsession with telling ourselves and our worlds over and over again in an attempt to stabilize a truth that, as Nabokov once said, should only exist within quotation marks.
 
View a trailer for the book here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZvaLi91Blk
 

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Cover Page

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pp. 1-2

Title Page

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pp. 3-6

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Acknowledgments

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pp. v-vi

The author would like to thank the publishers of the following journals and anthologies, in which some of these chapters first appeared in slightly different form: Best New Writing 2007, Black Warrior Review, Brooklyn Rail, Closets of Time, Gargoyle, Detroit: Stories, Iowa Review, Perigee, Serving House, Weber Studies, Writers’ Dojo. ...

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September

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pp. 1-22

Hieronymus Bosch dabs paintbrush to palette and confers with the small round convex mirror floating alone in an ocean of bonewhite wall on the far side of his studio. Sharpness of eye, thinness of lip, satirical rage, he thinks: his whole family of attributes, God willing, will be out of this mess soon enough. ...

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October

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pp. 23-40

Of course art is one of them, dear boy, fleshy Jerome said reaching for his wine glass. He sipped, turned to Estelle: Your husband’s certainly being contrary this evening, isn’t he? Then back to Robert: The delicious red, green, yellow? The heavy black outlines? ...

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November

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pp. 41-72

11.02.76. Well, I’m here. Third floor. Right set of shutters. I thought it couldn’t get any muggier than in Thailand, Taru, and then I stepped off the plane in Rangoon and lost the little appetite and desire for sleep I had. A two-inch-thick mattress on a narrow bed, damp sheets, a pillow smelling of someone else’s hair, ...

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December

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pp. 73-92

this: it makes me feel like I’m doing something for others, being useful, you could say, the same point I was able to make about my monkeys and me once upon a time—when I was fresh out of college, fresh in the classroom, when everyone needed saving and could be saved. ...

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January

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pp. 93-110

It was a stunning day outside. Even before I opened my eyes, I could tell an unconditionally blue sky would greet us. I took it as a sign. A prophecy. Events would go as they needed to go. ...

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February

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pp. 111-132

No, I’m sorry, I don’t think so. My husband. The kids. You know. This to the girlwoman standing beside you at the sink in the restroom. You’re most of a morning north of Rome. You went in to pee and, as you rinse your hands at the sink, she steps up beside you and asks if you happen to have a little extra room in your car. ...

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March

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pp. 133-146

Heart swollen with anticipation, Iphigenia steps onto the rocky shore from her father Agamemnon’s ship and immediately feels she has done this before. Gnarled graygreen cypress trees spattered here and there. The sky a violent blue. How the flock of white birds gyre above her like a flock of silent white hands. ...

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April

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pp. 147-164

Welcome to another episode of my own little pirate podcast coming to you semi-live and completely indirect every week from a different corner of the godforsaken Salton Sea, deadest body of saline solution on the deadest stretch of southwestern desert you’ll ever want to forget. ...

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May

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pp. 165-192

WT. Okay, Bill. We’ll get to that in a sec. What I’ve done here is I’ve turned on the recorder so I can tape our conversation because, you know, I’m not the best note taker in the world. This morning I’d like to return to some things we were talking about last fall, if that’s all right with you. ...

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June

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pp. 193-202

A lake somewhere in Finland inventing a slightly out-of-focus afternoon above itself. Two children on their way home after church. Wordless, hands in pockets, they are following a deserted road. Low grayblue hills lope along the far shore. Clusters of white flecks against dark wet earth. ...

July

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pp. 203-222

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August

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pp. 223-254

once upon a time there was a boy born a black marble-cover notebook he had a sewn-cloth spine for extra strength he was filled with wide-ruled sheets of paper he didn’t have any arms or legs just two sad blue eyes a squinched nose a pair of lips thin as a line drawn by a number-two pencil ...

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July

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pp. 255-268

APPENDIX: As a rule, this five inch-long blind-ended tube the color of Thousand Islands dressing branches off from the intestinal pouch called the cecum. In this case, though, it was discovered and extracted in 1639 from the cranium of a deceased mermaid washed up on the pebbly Dorset shore during a fierce storm. ...

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June

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pp. 269-278

B-flat or G-sharp. For argument’s sake, you understand. Everything became a verb, became a story, you see, and the verbs hurried me away from the boom-boom. This happened, in short, in a phrase, and then something else happened. Here, it could be said to go without comment, we are splitting hairs. ...

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May

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pp. 279-296

WT. I used to prop myself up against the pillows beside her in bed, drink my glass of milk, and stare straight ahead so I could see the worlds she was building. Her voice sounded like the color of irises. ...

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April

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pp. 297-310

Welcome to another episode of my own little pirate podcast coming to you semi-live and completely indirect every week from a different corner of the godforsaken Salton Sea, deadest body of saline solution on the deadest stretch of southwestern desert you’ll ever want to forget. ...

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March

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pp. 311-324

swollen with anticipation, Iphigenia closes her eyes and parts her lips to receive Achilles’ first kiss. She immediately feels she has done this before. They are alone in Achilles’ tent on their wedding night, the grand ceremony behind them. All the others have tumbled away into the past. ...

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February

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pp. 325-338

At the top of the next hill, Nayomi’s story falling behind you, you don’t find an extension of the country road you’ve been following. You find yourself veering unexpectedly back onto the Autostrada, traffic interlacing frantically around you. You crest 130 kilometers, 132, your mind hazy with speed. ...

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January

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pp. 339-356

We just stepped into the violent blueness. It was as easy as that. They had given us directions. We made our way through the deserted streets lined with dingy housing projects. We wanted to hold hands, but we expressed our free will instead. ...

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December

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pp. 357-370

ached for myself as Aleyt licked brownie off her thumb tip, rose, walked around the coffee table separating us, and gave me another hug, this one blunt and lingering. She smelled of cheap Allure, which for some reason struck me as very sad. For some reason everything struck me as very sad. ...

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November

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pp. 371-408

12.08.76. Shortly after they were married, Victoria and Albert visited Florence and were taken by the city’s incredible architecture, especially Brunelleschi’s dome atop the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore with its distinctive octagonal design built out of something like four million bricks. ...

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October

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pp. 409-428

It was lunchtime and they were all standing in the sunny kitchen watching Estelle put the finishing touches on their spicy-apple-and-turkey salad, pretending Naomi hadn’t just said what Naomi had just said. ...

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September

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pp. 429-445

yanking at his right ankle. He wants to say claws. Peculiar paradox: numb from neck down, he is distinctly aware of the insistent jerk, rest, jerk, rest, jerk. Yet what really gains the painter’s attention is the recognition that he has never before actually seen the ceiling. ...


E-ISBN-13: 9781573668194
E-ISBN-10: 1573668192
Print-ISBN-13: 9781573661577
Print-ISBN-10: 1573661570

Page Count: 455
Illustrations: 50 Illustrations
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1st ed.

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