Sunday, 21 July 2013

500 MILES by Parker Williams...

I get such pleasure from discovering new authors. We all have to start somewhere and I love, love, love the experience of reading the 'starting points' of other authors.

Only...well, hell...this new author, Parker Williams, bounded from his starting point and just jetted right into awesomeness!

This scrumptious story, 500 Miles, is part of an anthology, Mixed Tapes, from MLR Press, by the way. And, if I'm not mistaken, it's Mr. Williams' first published work. What a beautiful beginning he's made with this lovely contribution to this collection of stories.

 Click on Cover to Puchase

It's the tale of Mark, who is fourteen at the beginning and has a huge crush on his older brother's best friend Jase. When the brother and Jase both head overseas for the army, Jase leaves Mark with a cassette tape assuring him he will never leave him. Sure, he will be miles and miles away, but his spirit will never be any further than at Mark's side. And Jase leaves a recording of the song 500 Miles at the end of the message. 

That song carries a much deeper message that Mark will one day understand. And so will the reader by the time they've come to the end of the wonderful story.

This story immediately touched my heart because (no plot, remember, that's what the blurb is it dragged me back to my own past, to a secret love for a soldier overseas in a war. To a youngster who loves that older sibling's friend with a yearning that's not any less true just because the dreamer is just a kid. With me, it was the Viet Nam era, a boyfriend of my older sister's. Just like Mark in the story, I wrote letters to him, clung to his every response, dreamed of him and missed him something fierce. 

I daresay many folks have been in this position and will relate to this poignant telling of just that sort of young love. It's a common thing, told in a very UNcommon sweetness that was very, very deep and personal and heart wrenching. 

The other facet of 500 Miles that impressed me, that was such a delight, was the prose. This is not fancy writing. And by that I mean it's natural as breathing yet powerful as a heartbeat. It IS a heartbeat, a lovely VERY personal rhythm that melts the reader right into Mark's very mind and heart. Only problem with that is that the reader's going to bawl with Mark, hate with Mark, love with Mark, smile with Mark and fly to the moon with ultimate happiness with Mark. The reader is going to BE Mark. And that, my friend, is good writing. 

The prose was down to earth. Not like an author telling Mark's story but like Mark sitting on your porch with you, telling it to you himself. The beauty in that is that you come away from the book knowing Mark and never forgetting him. He made a friend of you. 

Mind-blowing perfection in a short package. Perfect characters, very real characters. Perfect, well-synchronized plot fit into that small space. And a perfect ending.