How does a person who cannot forget anything associated with strong emotion move on? Maybe they don’t. At least, Victor Stromboli of Transient City has not when we meet him. He is a witness in a roving mining city, living alone in a temporary tent city, with few friends and no family. Because of his memory, he is able to, with a shock, reconstruct a crime just by being at the crime scene using the sights, sounds, and smells.
When a case comes along with a personal connection, he starts working it, with the possibility of moving up to a detective. The personal connection is a woman named Kathy Whittaker he was in love with when he was twelve years old. Her family moved to another city and she forgets him, but he never forgets her.
His memory from years ago is now a living entity in front of him and his adolescent feelings propel him to solve her husband’s disappearance. There is a problem with all of this though. Much has happened to both of them in the intervening years and she is no longer the girl he remembers. As Shoes, one of Victor’s only friends, says to him, “…You’ll find what you’re looking for. Make sure you look in the right place.”
If a person could not forget anything that ever happened in their life, how hard would it be for them to move on? Victor is a man stuck in time and the world around him is changing without him noticing. This has left him isolated and alone.
Throughout the book, Victor starts to seek out change by taking on new responsibilities and seeing the people around him for who they are.
If you stare hard enough and long enough at the past, you will stay there. Victor could choose to live exclusively in the past but finds a way to see the present. Al Onia’s biography says “His stories celebrate the potential hero in each of us.” In a world as busy as ours, being able to see what is in front of us is a hero’s skill.