by Sherry Evans, Portsmouth Public Library
How often do we ask what time it is? Or check the clock, a watch, computer or cell phone? Are we ever unaware of time – standing still, going slowly or passing by too quickly? Too early…too late….on time. Time of day, time of year, time of life, etc. The ways in which we structure our lives around time are infinite. In school the bells ring. We drive according to timed stoplights. Dinner is served at a certain time. We sleep for X number of hours each night. Once you start thinking about time, you really can’t stop! Mitch Albom beautifully tackles the massive idea of time in his latest novel, The Time Keeper. We have come to expect poignancy, honesty, compassion and good storytelling from Albom and he doesn’t disappoint in this book. And in this season of the year when we find ourselves scurrying to get things done on time, a story about the invention of time might be just the thing to slow us down. Our protagonist is none other than Father Time, otherwise known as Dor. At times he does look like the iconic image, bent over, long white hair, ragged face, but he is also a young man in ancient times, a shopkeeper in modern times and a timeless man trapped in a cave for 6000 years. The story begins in ancient times where Dor, a most curious young man has married his childhood sweetheart. They have two children. They live a simple, agrarian life filled with love and laughter. But Dor has angered ‘God’ because he could not stop trying to measure ‘time.’ Dor was too curious; too smart. Often in stories omnipotent dictators punish the curious and the ‘God’ of this story is not nice. Dor is sentenced to a cave where he will remain alone forever and never age. The novel alternates in staccato-like fashion between present day characters and Dor’s observations. After 6000 years in the cave, Father Time (Dor) is sent back to present day to rescue Sarah, a struggling teen-ager and Victor, corporate CEO who is dying of cancer. From Dor’s vantage point in a clock shop, he watches Sarah and Victor, sadly, not knowing what he is supposed to do or how he is to save them. At the last possible moment he figures it out. Allow your reality to expand as Father Time solves the mystery of salvation for Sarah and Victor. Albom wrote the bestsellers Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven. In The Time Keeper he elevates his imagination, in a sense letting it run wild but never allowing it to skitter into excessive complications. “With a clever conceit and frequent shifts in perspective, Albom deftly juggles multiple narratives to craft an inspiring tale that will please his fans and newcomers alike” (Publishers Weekly) Is The Time Keeper science fiction or is it just a magical story? Given that there are no droids, warring tribes, or weaponry, I vote for magic. And in this most magical of seasons, a little fantasy may be just the ticket.
Published in the Seacoast Seniors, December 2012 edition.