Magic O’Clock by L.S.Fellows

Title: Magic O’Clock

Author: L.S.Fellows

Publisher: Pronoun

Date of Publication: 7 May 2017

Genre: Short Story/ Novella

Rating: 5/5

magicoclock

“If tears could build a stairway,

And memories a lane,

Then I’d walk right up to Heaven,

And bring you home again.” (Anon)

 

Heart wrenching novella of a family beaten down by the loathsome disease of Dementia.

Reminiscences are what people live by. It is memories that make good and bad stages of life. Though ironically happy memories hurt the most but it is some memories that make life more bearable. In this rugged terrain of existential absurdities that make up human life on this planet, it is memories that provide solace, hope and some bitter sweet lessons. Memories warm people from the inside and life becomes an endless effort of making unforgettable memories. But what if memory decides one day to walk out of someone’s life? Can new memories be made while befriending forgetfulness?

L.S.Fellows rattles both the mind and the heart in this crisp fictional tale of dementia and hope. Acceptance is one of the greatest lessons of life and the earlier it is mastered the easier it becomes to live. The loss of a dear one is difficult to accept. But it gets much harder when one has to live with the thought of being with a loved one who fails to recognise anyone or goes missing one fine day. The story treads this field of unfamiliarity experienced by a child whose retired father can no longer recognise anybody. The status quo is reversed as the parent who’s supposed to be the first guide in a child’s life has become the child in need of some guidance from his own progeny but refuses to receive any. It is this unfamiliarity that is crippling to the author.

The writing style is fluid and ideas roll in easily. The narrative is very descriptive to the extent that the pictures rise out of the page and can be seen like a film on screen. These vivid descriptions add to a good eye for detail. It is reflective of someone who not just writes for leisure but writes often and understands the art of storytelling. The story is told from the first person narrator’s perspective. Throughout the narrative the vocabulary used is simple but stress is made on the mode of expression of everyday ideas. Certain ideas are put forward in a way so as to have expressions hurled at the reader’s face to arouse a shudder or a slight chuckle. The humour adds to the pathos but it is not a hilarious account by any sense. The despair is maintained throughout the narrative along with a sense of respectful devotion that the narrator has towards the old man Archie. The death of a parental figure is hard to accept but their absence in their presence is much harder. The core of the suffering lies in the fact that all one can do after a person’s loss is to console oneself by recalling how well the deceased one had lived and how much they had enjoyed their sustenance.

It is ironic that a man who otherwise cannot recall anything is able to narrate such interesting tales articulately and with all the information intact. It is as if Archie takes up a different persona all together during the storytelling sessions at his old age home. He becomes a regular, normal person for those few hours. The narrator’s comments not only add to the reader’s idea about Archie but also give a sense of grief that is gnawing at the narrator’s heart who can merely sit and watch and do nothing at all. It is the helplessness at the hands of an irreversible situation. The child sits through the story telling sessions in hiding as a member of the audience and cannot even go and hug Archie due to the fear of rejection. The longing of a child to be recognised for its efforts and the longing to belong somewhere is overwhelming. The surprise ending baffles the readers who are left to sympathise with the narrator. The novella is very well constructed within barely twenty five pages. There is the constant criss crossing of laughter and tears. Readers familiar with Lisa Genova’s Still Alice will find the two books working along similar lines.

Heartfelt and difficult to swallow with a pathos that is every child’s dread.

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Joy in a Box and Other Stories by Sally Hanan

 

Title: Joy in a Box and Other Stories

Author: Sally Hanan

Publisher: Fire Drinkers Publishing

Date of Publication: 24 October 2014

Genre: Short Stories

Rating: 5/5

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A must read collection of soul soothing tales.

It fills you on the inside completely. It makes you puff your chest up and stand tall in a crowd. At times it makes you jump high in the air. It makes you euphoric but most of all it becomes the reason for you to continue along the tiring journey of life. It is the feeling of ‘joy’ and Joy in a Box is a joyous read.
The collection encases a number of stories that are poignantly presented to charm the reader. The stories are emotionally captivating and realistic. Some of them are based on real life incidents that had been reported. Others are explications of Biblical narratives. The short stories deal with varied themes of pain that is felt at the loss of a dear one, the difficulties of overcoming the grief of a child’s disappearance, the happiness of childbirth, the shade of parental care, the quirkiness of marital relationship and teenage infatuation. Each story is an emotionally mature representations of human relations which makes the book highly easy to connect with. Most of the instances joy is never devoid of sorrow and vice versa. It is in the balance of both that the little joys of life are felt.
The varied angularity of the stories helps to give newer perspectives. The narrative is fresh, non-repetitive and swift. The stories move in a linear manner and unfold gradually. The style is simple and profound that tugs at the heart. Descriptions are vivid and detailed. The book doesn’t try to impose its views on the readers. All things unnecessary are avoided. It is the surprise endings that leave a sense of pathos. The book instils supernatural nature of faith that is personified in Jesus.

Sensitive, relevant and a mature collection providing a relaxing break from the mundanity of urban lifestyle.