by Joseph G. Peterson
University of Iowa Press, 2022
eISBN: 978-1-60938-878-2 | Paper: 978-1-60938-877-5
Library of Congress Classification PS3616.E84288M46 2022
Dewey Decimal Classification 813.6

When his girlfriend, Rosemary, asks about his life, Jim Moore, a successful salesman whose territory covers the entire continental United States and parts of Canada, doesn’t think there is anything to say and so he tells her “nothing happened,” or maybe he doesn’t know how to put it all into words or maybe he doesn’t want to.

Stuck in an airport because of blizzard conditions, and packed into a crowded terminal with other travelers, Moore has come to believe that his life is not worth reporting about because it has largely been a life lived without incident. However, chance encounters with a yoga instructor, a man traveling to bury his mother, and an enigmatic woodsman reawaken long dormant emotions about his father’s suicide and cause Jim to newly reflect on his own life and on a memorandum that he later discovered in his deceased father’s papers, which lists all the names of the clouds, and which Jim now, from time to time, recants as if it were his own private kaddish to memorialize his lost father.

Like the pilgrims in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales who pass the time telling stories while stranded in the Tabard Inn, Memorandum from the Iowa Cloud Appreciation Society tells the tale of a traveling salesman and what really happened over the course of his forty- six years.

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