The short story “A Day to Remember” (“Un giorno da ricordare”) by Clelia Farris was published for the first time in 2017 by Strange Horizons in the translation by Rachel Cordasco.
Olì is a memory artist: she doesn’t just eliminate ugly memories cutting them out to leave the good ones but she modifies them to improve them. After the Great Frost there are many people who feel the need to forget something or at least to have pleasant memories and as payment they give Olì food or other items useful to her or to barter.
“A Day to Remember” is set in a future that follows considerable environmental changes. In the story there are various geographical references that suggest that it’s set in Cagliari, Sardinia, but it’s a place very different from the current – hot – one, where Clelia Farris was born: it’s partly submerged and there was the Great Frost, an event that led to the formation of an ice crust on the sea surface.
Despite those events, in the area there’s still a community of people who survive as they can. Among them there’s Olì, an artist with the ability of changing people’s memories. It’s not her favorite activity and she’d rather devote himself to other projects inspired by the artist Salvador Dalí but she needs to eat.
Clelia Farris doesn’t explain how Olì works on people’s memories because she’s interested in talking about the people in the story and what it means to eliminate or at least modify their memories. Embellishing them may seem like a good thing, but what are the consequences? Memories are crucial in forming a person, what effect can their modification have on someone’s identity?
The story is focused on feelings and emotions, especially Olì’s, connected to her relationship with her art and the use she makes of it. Around her there are various other characters, some weird, who move among the islands and the semi-submerged buildings in which they live. We see some fragment of their life, generally not very positive.
In many ways it seems that the inhabitants of the area are resigned to their situation and eliminating certain memories contributes to living in their present and little more. That’s because in addition to forming identity, memories of the past are the basis to build the future. “A Day to Remember” is in many ways sad but Clelia Farris offers some hope. It’s appropriate to say that these themes make it a story to remember. You can read it here.