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.
“For years now, Joe Peterson has been one of our—Chicago’s and the planet’s—most inventive and intriguing writers. In his latest, he soars even higher, providing a captivating tale filled with narrative power, artful observations, and unforgettable characters.”—Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune/WGN radio
“Joseph Peterson’s Memorandum is a wonder: a bold and engaging meditation on this mortal coil, by turns hilarious and heartbreaking, encompassing a lifetime in miniature. Snow-stranded salesman Jim Moore is a contemporary Willy Loman at odds with much of the modern world. But instead of despair he finds hope, humor, and redemption in the explorations of the mind. For a story that dwells within the ironic stasis of airport travel, the narrative’s propulsive momentum whisks the reader toward its profound conclusion.”—Darrin Doyle, author, The Beast in Aisle 34
“If I were moored to an airport chair at the gate on account of a snowstorm, Memorandum from the Iowa Cloud Appreciation Society is the book I’d want in my hands. What starts as a cry against the inhumanity of technology, our callous treatment of the environment, and the soul-crushing indignities of late-stage capitalism shifts and reshapes into a meditation on our own responsibilities in creating our inner schlemiels, that part of us that insists on looking inside and not liking what we see. In fresh, spirited prose, Joseph Peterson deftly depicts the full and often uproariously sad life of Jim Moore, a charming, lively, and truly memorable everyman. Spoiler alert: After recapping every cloud, Peterson leaves us with a stark sun in a clear blue sky that has illuminated our souls.”—Avner Landes, author, Meiselman: The Lean Years