In this provocative, bitingly funny debut collection, people attempt to use technology to escape their uncontrollable feelings of grief or rage or despair, only to reveal their most flawed and human selves
An architect draws questionable inspiration from her daughter’s birth defect. A content moderator for “the world’s biggest search engine,” who spends her days culling videos of beheadings and suicides, turns from stalking her rapist online to following him in real life. At a camp for recovering internet trolls, a sensitive misfit goes missing. A wounded mother raises the second incarnation of her child.
In You Will Never Be Forgotten, Mary South explores how technology can both collapse our relationships from within and provide opportunities for genuine connection. Formally inventive, darkly absurdist, savagely critical of the increasingly fraught cultural climates we inhabit, these ten stories also find hope in fleeting interactions and moments of tenderness. They reveal our grotesque selfishness and our intense need for love and acceptance, and the psychic pain that either shuts us off or allows us to discover our deepest reaches of empathy. This incendiary debut marks the arrival of a perceptive, idiosyncratic, instantly recognizable voice in fiction—one that could only belong to Mary South.
South debuts with a playful, astute collection about modern alienation. In "Keith Prime," a nurse devastated by her husband's death works at a "Keith Fulfillment Center," where she goes against regulations by becoming attached to one of the Keiths, clones born and put into perpetual sleep before being harvested for body parts, "scooped out like ice cream from a bucket." In "The Age of Love," elderly men at an assisted living center begin calling phone sex lines, affecting the lives of the staff, including complicating the relationship between the narrator, who works at the center, and his girlfriend. "Frequently Asked Questions About Your Craniotomy," takes the form of a q&a in which a neurosurgeon's unsettled personal life bleeds into her answers. In the title story, a woman who works at "the world's most popular search engine" killing offensive and violent content begins to follow first online, then in the real world a man who raped her. In "Not Setsuko," a woman raises her second daughter as an exact replica of her first child, who died at nine years old, down to killing the family's cat on the day the first daughter lost her cat ("She loved the cat the second time as much as the first"). South's stories are both funny and profound, often on the same page, but perhaps her best skill is plumbing the intricacies of loneliness, expertly dissecting what that term means in a technology-driven world. This is an electric jolt from a very talented writer.