Saturday, October 24, 2015

My Father Moves Through Time Like a Dirigible by Gregg Cusick

The stories in Gregg Cusick's My Father Moves Through Time Like a Dirigible often reveal themes that aren't evident until the reader is well into the text. The title story is one of those, starting with an elderly man trying to convince a school principal to produce a play based on the 1925 wreck of the Shenandoah, an American blimp. Slowly, through conversations with the principal, the man's background is revealed and reasons for his interest in that tragedy become evident. Dozen Wheelbarrows is another work that uses a slow reveal to let the reader understand its theme. Cusick writes each story from the point of view of a limited number of characters and generally keeps to the present tense. He handles these techniques beautifully, providing an intense picture of his characters' thoughts, which wander and circle, but always wind back to where they need to be.

In Welding Girl, one of my favorites in the collection, a young woman uses the experience of learning a new skill to deal with her insecurities and with a family tragedy. The details of the welding process serve as a metaphor for her life in ways that are unique and fascinating. This story, like all the others, works on multiple levels that come together powerfully. Another story, Ghosts of Doubt, has a teacher, the main character, leading his class in a study of Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim. During the process he internally relates the pivotal event of his own life to the experience of Conrad's title character, losing himself in the power of that comparison while his students watch and worry.

Every story in this collection builds at a perfect pace and creates the intense, emotional impact that makes reading fiction so wonderful.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions

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