Books by Charles Dickinson

A SHORTCUT IN TIME by Charles Dickinson
Released: Jan. 1, 2003

"A little too laid-back for its own good, though it does rally itself at the end with some unexpected developments to come out a genial little piece of time-travel trickery."
Going back in time doesn't require multimillion-dollar equipment and flashing special effects, apparently; all it needs is for someone to run down a certain path at just the right time during a thunderous rainstorm. That, at least, is what underpins Chicago journalist Dickinson's fifth novel (after Rumor Has It, 1990), a story of small-town science fiction. Dickinson nods in more than a few ways to the specter of Ray Bradbury by setting the tale in the bucolic burg of Euclid, Illinois, where one Josh Winkler, a dreamer and poorly selling artist who is essentially supported by his physician wife and who, by taking the above-mentioned little dash down an old pathway, gets dumped 15 minutes into the past. After that, things start to accelerate (though never too quickly: this is a 21st-century novel deliberately given 19th-century pacing and atmosphere), initially with the arrival of Constance, a young girl from the early 1900s who took the same fateful walk and is now trying to figure out her new surroundings. Not surprisingly, Josh is fascinated by Constance's story, which his wife steadfastly refuses to believe is anything but a hoax, and, together, the two of them pore over microfiche news stories, trying to piece together whether Constance ever made it back to the past. Meanwhile, reports of Josh's apparent mania have spread through Euclid; people are canceling their appointments with his wife; and teenagers are amassing on the pathways near Josh's house, begging for advice on how to jump into the past or future, just so they can get away from the here and now. Read full book review >
RUMOR HAS IT by Charles Dickinson
Released: Jan. 23, 1990

In his fourth novel, Dickinson exchanges the muted domesticity of his earlier work (Waltz in Marathon, 1983; The Widows' Adventures, 1989) for the hurly-burly of a newsroom. The novel covers 12 turbulent hours at the Bugle, a Chicago tabloid in a losing circulation battle with its non-tabloid rival, the Quill, but begins and ends in the suburbs, home to our viewpoint character Danny Fain, the Bugle's associate Metro editor, a happily married family man and decent, conscientious journalist. Danny has been summoned to a meeting, this Halloween morning, at which he will learn the paper is about to fold. From his commuter train he glimpses a kid in a ghost costume flying through the air, a possible hit-and-run victim. Sensing a scoop, Danny assigns a reporter to look for the body, but doesn't notify the police (an ethical lapse?); that story and its outcome create the suspense element here. Meanwhile, all hell has broken loose among the jittery employees, still in the dark about severance arrangements. Dickinson interweaves colorful cameos of newsroom personalities, and time-honored newsroom anecdotes, with updates on the bedlam. A female reporter, unmasked as a spy for the Quill, runs a gauntlet of spitting, jeering co-workers; three machinists take the presses hostage and are badly roughed up by Security. Danny's man in the field, Tim Penn, has by now found the body, but he has also gone over to the competition—Channel Eight News; in an improbable ending, Danny finds himself being castigated on camera for shoddy journalistic practices—and being forced out, as a scapegoat, by his editor. Newsrooms are perennially appealing—think of all the successful TV shows—and Dickinson's zoo provides good, rowdy entertainment, but—the hit-and-run story unable to support the significance attached to it—not much more. Read full book review >