Saturday, May 12, 2012

7 Hours - Post 2 - Escapement by Rene Gutteridge

When a story begins in second person, readers take notice. When the same story begins with instructions on how to get away with murdering someone, the effect is doubly true. I was hooked from the opening lines.

Let's begin with a snippet from the summary:

In each installment of 7 Hours, a character is visited by the enigmatic Thomas Constant, who makes a heart-stopping statement: “You are about to die. But you may choose from one of three options: Live seven more hours, travel back in time and relive seven hours, or accept the inevitable and die now.”

Mattie Bigham has lost his job, is losing his wife, and is not losing any weight. At just under four hundred and fifty pounds, he figures his doctor’s prediction that he's going to drop dead any second is about to come true. He is right.
And now, my review:

Matt’s response to Thomas Constant’s 7-hour deal is seven more hours added to his life because he knows just how he’ll use the block of time: he’s determined to kill the high school bully whose heartless behavior all those years ago yoked Mattie with a load of shame and self-esteem issues that burdened him his entire life. 

Matthew Bigham weighs something like 450 pounds. When was the last time you read a story with a protagonist who fit that description? (See what I did there? Second person. *smile) And though I don’t weight 450 pounds (whew!) and I’m not a male, I do understand how the past can torment a person. Until we lay it down. Mattie has a hard time with that last part. He thinks murder is the only solution. So we ride along in his rented Hummer to the mansion of his nemesis and target. 

I liked Rene's tie-in with the workings of a watch (an escapement is a mechanism in a watch/clock) given that this story, this anthology, is all about time. 

Rene’s wording, her prose, is delectable. Like with the other novellas in this anthology, I underlined several phrases. And so you know, the story doesn’t stay in second person. It flips to first without losing any reader investment or immediacy. I was glued clear through, madly flipping Kindle screens.
The author mentions having this character on her mind/in her heart for years. Makes sense when you see how well-drawn he is. She wrote a delicious tale. Redemptive. Hopeful (ironic, isn’t it?). Mattie would be proud how she made him shine. I’ve definitely got to pick up more of Rene’s books. 

Highly recommended.

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