Eternal Sunshine of the Absent Mind

Atticus Trade Paperback Original
Release Date: December 28, 2010

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” ~ Jasmine, a desired damsel, quoting Saint Augustine in The Absent Traveler.

KENSINGTON, MD — What’s the furthest you’ve been from home? Randall DeVallance, author of The Absent Traveler, lived in Bulgaria during his stint with the Peace Corps, and his experience shines through in his exquisite story of Charles Lime.

Taste the Eastern European food and hear the Serbian pop music in Charles Lime’s great escape from small-town reality. If you’ve ever had your heart broken, felt misunderstood, and pined for exotic travel to lands afar, then you have a kindred spirit; his name is Charles Lime.

The Absent Traveler (December 2010, Atticus Books) is the story of this 20-something, 24-hour-a-day escapist who has little drive, less money and few prospects. Charles spends much of his mundane hours working at a local electronics store, ringing up customers at the cash register and getting into trouble with his boss and co-workers.

During his waking hours, Charles mostly tries to avoid personal encounters and wanders the drab city streets of Western Pennsylvania in a dream-like, entranced state. In the evening, when he enters that place where no one can touch him, Charles is transformed through the power of fantasy.

Charles religiously reads travel stories, alone in his small boarding room, seeking shelter from his hateful father and his lush of a landlady. Charles invariably succumbs to his nightly habit of reading as if possessed by the addictive charms of an illicit drug. Once he drifts off, he enters an alter life filled with vaguely familiar surroundings and careless adventures in a land far away from his dull, small-town existence.

A mixed-up heart and a distracted mind cause Charles to lose all sense of responsibility — and his increasingly odd behavior and unconscious actions set him on a path of self-destruction. Facing a possible eviction from his basement apartment, Charles ignores the obvious truth — his life is in tatters, and instead retreats to the place he knows best: the safety of his books, where he is free to let his imagination carry him to distant lands.

Reality, or what may pass for it, matters little to Charles who grows to find solace in permanent escape. Whether he can find his way back to the only place he has ever known becomes an altogether different matter.

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Randall DeVallance is the author of the short novel, Dive (2004), and the short-story collection, Sketches of Invalids (2007). His stories have appeared in several anthologies and more than 30 print and online publications including McSweeney’sPindeldybozEyeshotVestal Review, and Word Riot. He lives in New York City.

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