You Will Never Be Forgotten: Stories
By Mary South
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.
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About the AuthorMary South is a graduate of Northwestern University and the MFA program in fiction at Columbia University, where she was a chosen for a Henfield scholarship. For many years, she has worked with Diane Williams as an editor at the literary journal NOON. She is also a former intern in The New Yorker's fiction department and a Bread Loaf work-study fellow. Her writing has appeared in The Believer, The Collagist, Conjunctions, Electric Literature, NewYorker.com, NOON, and Words Without Borders. The writer Maile Meloy awarded her story "Not Setsuko" an honorable mention in the Zoetrope: All Story fiction contest. She lives in New York.
"Playful, astute . . . 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." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
In the standout pieces, the characters' pain is deeply human and affecting . . . [The title story] takes many brilliant twists and turns and culminates in an ending so surprising and inevitable Flannery O'Connor would surely approve." --Kirkus
"Appearing at first to be about the double-edged sword of technology, the collection is actually about people confronting their all-too-human emotions . . . At her best, South is reminiscent of George Saunders, replete with strangeness and dark humor. This intriguing collection should put South on readers' radars and is perfect for fans of Black Mirror." --Kathy Sexton, Booklist
"Mary South gets it. With dark humor, she knocks down like so many lined-up ducks all the consoling pieties that nurture humanist fiction, and sets up in their place a vision of subjects irremediably mediated, strung out along networks that far exceed them. Her universe is glitchy, full of weakly-encrypted memory, open-source desire, self-replicating fantasy: the human in hock to the algorithm." --Tom McCarthy, author of Satin Island
"Mary South's stories are a vital mix of wry humor, cunning provocation, disturbing prophecy and deep feeling. A brilliant and brilliantly strange and strangely funny and menacing debut!" --Sam Lipsyte, author of Hark
"Mary South's wickedly, exquisitely hilarious collection dwells in the intimate aches of modern life, writ large in strange, delightful stories that include, but are not limited to, clones, brain surgery, internet trolls, and warehouses full of spare men. Dazzlingly imagined and full of wit, You Will Never Be Forgotten is a gift to readers everywhere, a ferocious transmission from one of the most audacious, most original new voices in fiction." --Alexandra Kleeman, author of Intimations
"These swift and spiky stories dive, unafraid, into grief and violence--and emerge with insights as vivid and powerful as a lightning strike. You Will Never Be Forgotten is an arresting, unpredictable, and hilarious collection, and Mary South is an ingenious new talent." --Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel
"While Mary South's stories feature the cutting-edge technology of our present and near future, what makes this collection so exceptional is the deft hand with which she can peel back the sheen of novelty to get to the core of these characters' triumphs and struggles. With sharp insight and wit, South lays bare the timeless truths of love, loss and loneliness at the heart of these stories." --Sara Novic, author of Girl at War
"One of the strangest and most exciting collections I've read in recent times. This is what I hope for from speculative fiction: an unease that pulls you through the story with urgency, but also delivers new formations of haunting questions that linger long after the story ends." --Jac Jemc, author of The Grip of It
"This is a delicious, absurdly sharp collection of stories--funny, painful, macabre, sometimes gruesome, and humming with intelligence. Mary South is a tremendous talent and this book is a gem." --Lydia Kiesling, author of Golden State
"What a heady, delicious, devastating collection. These stories, in their limitless wit and invention, begin as satisfying intellectual puzzles and then bloom into something fiercer, wilder--expanding to contain the fullness of dread, loss, longing, shame, terror. Mary South has written a tremendous book." --Clare Beams, author of The Illness Lesson
"Here are ten stories of loneliness and loss, bristling with gallows humor, and wrought of nimble, gleefully exacting sentences. With wide-reaching curiosity and deadpan wit, Mary South writes the absurdity and banality of technology-damaged life." --Kathryn Scanlan, author of Aug 9-Fog