From Lemons (Jeannie-Centristasis, 2011, etc.) comes a sci-fi novel about one man’s rare opportunity to connect with the love of his life.
Forty-nine-year-old Edward Lewis is a trucker by trade. Although Edward boasts some accomplishments (“a mathematics degree as well as authoring several books”), he seems content with his occupation. Staying in a hotel room when not on the road, he finds himself drawn to a woman named Audra. There’s only one problem: “Audra had been dead for nearly twenty years.” An actress from days past, she seems “cute, cuddly, yet hard, tough, and resourceful” to Edward. After a strange presence visits him in his hotel room, Edward receives a startling proposition. He can travel back to the year 1953 as “a twenty-one-year-old man with the opportunity to meet Audra at her age in that year.” The catch is that his life in the present will never have existed. As it is explained to him, “Your existence will be reset.” Accepting the offer, Edward finds himself in a New York theater with a pocketful of money and a vague sense of who he is. As he and Audra fall in love, questions emerge about Edward’s past. Who is this man who has seemingly fallen from the sky? And then there’s the issue of the smartphone that Edward has materialized with, though he does not fully understand its purpose or why only he can see it. A zany yet familiar conceit, the story moves unhurriedly at first, though things eventually manage to get more curious and surprising. Spotted with clumpy sentiments (one character believes that “love is, and always will be a very selfish act, for it cannot exist without subjective desire”), some philosophical musings could certainly use subtler articulations. Nevertheless, the lingering question of the smartphone helps to maintain intrigue. Portions involving the gadget help to expose modern-day silliness, as when Audra insists Edward put it away during a train ride lest someone think he was “whacked out mentally in some fashion” for ostensibly playing with his palm. Of bigger interest to the reader is finding out what, if anything, it all means.
A classic story of nostalgia fulfilled, the narrative moves slowly but delivers a number of unexpected revelations.