An extended meditation on fog, perception, memory and mortality.
This debut is even more ambitious than it is elliptical, as Boelte tries to come to terms with the suicide of his older brother when both were teenagers and with the nature of fog, both as a physical manifestation and as a metaphor. He compares memory to fog in “how it obscures the world, confusing the seen and the unseen. And then, how it slowly disappears from sight until the world is once again visible.” The prose can be a little too preciously poetic, overly conscious of its effect, but the narrative has a powerful anchor amid the mists of fog—the brother who committed suicide, perhaps in response to the LSD he had been using and then caught dealing, half a lifetime ago for the author. There’s a catharsis within this narrative strand, as the author remembers what he had previously blocked and comes to terms with what was once familiar but has been lost in the fog of memory. There is little in the way of chronological progression, as the story jumps back and forth among the fog-bound present in San Francisco, the coming-of-age (and death) in Colorado, and the legacy of fog in the historical annals. The metaphor almost collapses under the thematic strain, but just as it seems that Boelte has circled back a time or two too many, he shows that he knows what he’s doing, evoking the philosophy of the great painter Mark Rothko: “If a thing is worth doing once, it is worth doing over and over again—exploring it, probing it, demanding by this repetition that the public look at it.”
In this occasionally overwrought but often moving memoir, Boelte ends with a different perspective than when he started.