Spencer, T.W. “A Brief Moment In Time: A Short Story Collection”, Timothy W. Spencer, 2015.
There are many pluses to being a reviewer but for me the best of them are discovering new talent and then recommending that talent to others so that they can enjoy. A couple of weeks ago I received a message on Facebook from Timothy Spencer asking if I would consider reviewing his first book. I get a lot of requests of this kind and most of the time I agree. This time there was something special in the request although I am sure what but something said to me to take this book and I am so glad I did. I understand that this is the first of three collections of short stories and this one, the first, focuses on “one life shattering decision, a moment when everything changes.”
Those of you who know my work also know that I rarely review each story in a collection but that just changed with this book—and that is because every story is special.
In “An Angel’s Kiss” we meet Kellie who is facing death in order to discover herself. Before she can die she has to deal with what brought her to death’s door. I found this to be an existential look at literature and life. How many of us consider how we get to death’s door? Even more interesting, how many ever know that they are facing death directly much less how they got there. There is a lot of food for thought here.
Michele is a student of the Bible so we learn in “The Good Student”. She is also a teacher who loves her career and her students and she is a brave woman—she is not afraid to face the dangers in the world. She wants to be safe and she wants her students to be safe as well. However when one of her students turns up dead and yet another one disappears, Michele realizes that her love for religion is interfering with her taking action and decides the time has come to leave religion and piety and do what must be done.
How many really know our own true nature? An even better question is how many of us even want to know our true nature. In “Good Teaching” this is what Nicholas is dealing with and just as he does, I questioned myself about who I am.
“From His Efforts Come” is a story about twins who were separated at birth. One is special, the other ordinary and of no importance. When one needs to be saved, there are sides to be taken but I will say that in four short pages there is enough to keep us thinking hard for a very long time.
Have you ever thought about how you would react if you are locked into a room from which there is no escape? This is the problem that Vidor faces in “Approaching Rebirth”. What does one think about when he/she knows there is no freedom anymore? How do we rationalize a life that is not free?
In “Into the Woods” we learn that Valoosh had a vision when he was a child. In it he saw “the sky caves descend upon the world and release their virus.” Now that he is older and also the leader of his people, he has great responsibility. Whether he can do what is expected of him is the reason you must read this story. There is something here akin to biblical Joseph who had visions and responsibilities and what he does with them is what makes this story special.
Meet Melvin the storyteller in “Brother Eagle/Sister Wolf”. He is quite a storyteller but something happens after hearing him— those that do disappear forever. Dexter has heard these stories about missing people but he does not believe them and is determined to find out for himself.
Soon-kim has been blind since she was a child. If you know anyone who is blind you know they suffer. A very good friend of mine is blind and she depends on me for a lot. Sometimes it can be very difficult for me but then again I can see and she can’t —the things that are so simple for me are major situations for her. This is what Soon-kim has to face and she has to deal with his past as well as his future. We read ho story in “Arahant”.
The title story of the collection, “A Brief Moment in Time” is about Sutepmi, a timewalker—(a warrior who guards over and maintains the time stream). He has quite a surprise waiting for him when he gets home.
Finally, the print version of the book has an extra story. “Tenuous Freedom” and it alone makes the collection worthwhile and I do not mean to slight any of the other stories. However, the idea of tenuousness of life is something very special and when Charlie and his friends go fishing, they have no idea of what is in store for them.
I am not a fan of speculative, paranormal or science fiction but I must say I was mesmerized by what I read here. Spencer can very well be at a catalyst for the changing face of the short story. I recommend that you get a copy of the book before he becomes too famous. He has a list of writings that he is working on and I do not think he will be unknown for very long.