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14 December 2008

Book Review: A Shortcut Through Time

Starting in high school, and many times since, I've tried to make myself enjoy the works of Charles Dickens. It started with A Tale of Two Cities, which never captured my attention long enough to be more important than the other things a 14 year-old finds important (I will not list what they were). And it ended most recently with Hard Times, which I liked at first, but quickly lost interest in. Blaming it on the distractions of summer, I thought I'd give it another try two weeks ago.

The book never made it off the shelf. Instead I was drawn to A Shortcut in Time by Charles Dickenson. Interesting name for an author I thought--I wonder how many people check out his books in the library just because they sit next to the works of Dickens.

Time travel, and sci-fi in general aren't my usual thing, but a random page in the middle and the jacket made me think I might like this book. I took it home.

I'll not spoil the plot, but it doesn't end the way most time travel stories do, which is refreshing. I mostly enjoyed the book, and would have thoroughly enjoyed it if it weren't for several inconsistencies and lose ends (I didn't get the significance of the note in the basement). It is a warm tale that tries to tell us that even everyday events in life have significance, and would probably affect us profoundly if altered. Kind of like Our Town, but without the sentimentality.

I will probably go back and read one or two of the other books produced by Charles Dickenson. Very approachable stuff, not so much like Dickens, which you will find on the same shelf.

This isn't related, but I might as well make it a twofer. Two months ago I re-read Jane Eyre for the first time since I was 15. Like just about every book I was assigned to read in high school that I've since gone back and re-read, it was so much better this time around.

I'm still trying to put my finger on the reason for this phenomenon. It could be that actually having a choice in the matter makes reading a book more pleasurable. It could also be that I'm no longer under time constraints to get the reading done. Fifteen year-olds are such poor managers of time. Whatever the reason, I need to maintain this habit of going through my high school back-catalog of literature and finding the fun pieces I was either too busy or too stupid to appreciate.

I'll save Dickens for another time though.