Theories of Forgetting

Written by  Lance Olsen

(Excerpt from the novel)

An arid, light-breezed, too-warm summer morning in this city of the sweatless. You can't walk more than a few blocks in the upper Avenues without the inside of your mouth going sticky dry, can't help being aware of the UV rays relentlessly unarguing your cellular facts.

Even this early in the day, the atmosphere over the basin is ochering softly with ozone, desert dust, particulates that this evening will put on a red-slashed tangerine drag show above the airport, the marshlands, the mudflats, the hunched backbone of Antelope Island out in the glint of lake water to the west.


This morning your interest keeps tagging the human meteor strike in the Oquirrh Mountains called the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine: open-pit, a mile deep, 2½ wide, 450,000 tons of material extracted every day, every week, month, year, the world's largest manmade excavation, a 1900-acre cochlea chewing itself into the planet since 1904.

In satellite images, it appears as an enormous uncanny amoebic scar.


Houses bordering the sidewalk on your right drop away just beyond the intersection with K Street. The valley unfastens, opening out across the downtown a thousand feet below, through wooly green suburbs south to Murray, Midvale, Sandy, Draper, Riverton twenty miles away.

The unchecked perspective even after all these years unnerves you, the idea you're seeing everything you're seeing all at once.

All this viewing.

All this relentless taking in.

The high desert's combination of severity, immensity, and shock makes you conscious of your own breathing, how you negotiate this breath, then this one, then the one after.

Additional Info

  • Location: E 13th Ave, Salt Lake City, UT 84103