Today’s book review of a single short story is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey.
‘The Gate of Time’ by Stefan Bolz
Synopsis: Accountant and family man Christopher Wells enters a fallen-down house across from his office. He leaves only minutes later. Outside, however, a few years have passed. And the only way for him to get his life back is to go back inside.
This eBook short story is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Gate-Time-Stefan-Bolz-ebook/dp/B00HV1BUWS and http://www.amazon.com/The-Gate-Time-Stefan-Bolz-ebook/dp/B00HV1BUWS.
Stefan Bolz is the author of the beloved fable The Three Feathers and The Dawning of the True Self – A Companion. He lives and works in the Greater Hudson Valley in Upstate New York. His website is www.stefanbolz.com.
I read this story a few months back for Stefan as part of the free editing sample I offer to all new enquirers (see https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/editing-and-critique for more details) so I knew what the story was about but I have a dreadful memory so it was like seeing a film months later; I remembered parts of it, the general gist, but not enough for it to feel repetitive.
This story is dedicated to ‘Amy’ with the following (wonderfully eerie) quotation underneath: ‘No name shall see the gate of time and be unchanged’ which gives us a flavour of what we’re about to read. The first two (Kindle) pages are a gripping first-person italicised prologue-type passage entitled Christopher Wells, Time Chronicles. Vol.1. Being female, I love the thought that darkness is my gender.
We’re then taking (not in italics) to just fifty-five minutes earlier and learn how it leads to that moment. A few films have done this, The Blind Side, being one that springs to mind. Our narrator (an accountant) then tells us about the trailer (which we tend to call a mobile home here in the UK) and a little of the man’s background, that he’s always been a fan of numbers (despite being a wordsmith, the numbers round in Countdown is my favourite).
Another italics ‘after’ passage follows, marking a contrast between the mundane here and now, and the hyper near future. Our man has mentioned that he has four children and we meet two of his daughters, who are charming. They want him to go into the trailer and it takes him several years to do so. And when he does, we’re back into italics for a page until we’re taken back to the moment he enters the trailer. What happens next, I shall leave for you to read but suffice to say, it has a Roald Dahl quality about it and given that he’s my favourite author, that’s a huge compliment.
Some books where they skip back and forth so quickly could be confusing but this isn’t. Personally I would have ended it with the final two words but they circle back to an earlier passage so I can see why they were included.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, Chair of NWG (which runs the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition), Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page). She also recently created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.
Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has six others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.
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