The Absent Traveler
Charles Lime is a total misfit living in a world of his own creation. As the author relates the life of this man caught up in a dead-end job, working for meager wages we meet this college age man who lives his life in a fantasy world created by the books he reads and the world he imagines in his mind. Charles Lime is not a success in any definition of the word.
Living in a one room basement with few if any modern conveniences, he trudges through life, fixating on the things he wishes he could have and those he imagines he does. Charles Lime is someone grasping at life and groping for one small twig or piece of something to hang on to that would bring him some joy or success. Happiness is within his realm of hope but his life has little purpose as he stagnates in his career, does not take any unnecessary chances nor attempts to change his status quo.
Charles takes many journeys to fare off places within his mind, his dreams and vivid imagination as he immerses himself into the books he reads, articles in magazines, and wanders the globe to many foreign lands allowing himself to feel the essence, ambiance, and terrain of these places he visits as an Absent Traveler on a journey that he might never realize on his own. Taking a chance, changing his routines, or allowing himself to understand the lives of others in other places would warrant Charles having to confront dangerous situations, override his boredom and require planning, work, creativity and other attributes Charles might have but refuses to explore and remain dormant.
Yet, Charles is quite astute on his assessment and descriptions of the world as the author narrates his view of the many people he encounters at work, at the local diner or even on the street. Allowing the reader to see the world through the eyes of the character from glasses that are often clouded and vision that needs to be sharpened, the reader realizes that Charles need to illuminate his dull world in order to free his vision of the cataract or cloud covering it to see the world in a more positive way.
Tech Mart is a stopgap for most working there, except Charles Lime. Consumed by the attention devoted to his complaints, the job itself and his no way out situation, Charles is freely not that different from many young people today caught in a rut hoping for not a government bail out but a parent bail out and some simple guidance that would lead them to eventual success. Added to the mix of this interesting novella, is one young lady named Jasmine who gives the character and the reader a glimmer of hope that he might risk attempting a relationship with her or at least try a date. But, there is much more that is blocking his path.
His parents are disappointed in him and although his mother would support his returning home and going back to school to advance himself, his father expresses his negative feelings, letting Charlie know that his career choice is a dead end, his life has little purpose or success and that a person’s worth is defined by the material things and the size of his bank account and nothing more. Plus, finally taking a chance with Jasmine does not exactly pan out the way he expected it to as she has a career and life of her own and Charlie is not part of her future plans. Charlie needs to become more self-reliant and create a better place for himself by not listening to others, leaving Tech Mart and deciding on a better path of his own and not being so complacent.
Reality blends with fantasy as the end of the story reveals much about Charles, his dreams, his relationship and his fears when one incident changes everything for him and his world is turned around leaving him with his book. What happens at the end and where he winds up you will have to decide for yourself. Just what Charles has in store for him, does his life come together or does fall apart. Where does Jasmine wind up and whether they ever connect you will have to read for yourself. The ending will give the reader much pause for thought and the final outcome you will have to determine for yourself. One man torn between his life and his dream of what he would like life to be. Charles Lime: Absent Traveler: Absent in Life or Just Starting to Live
This is one book that really holds your interest throughout. It is a different kind of story with a character that you either understand or sympathize with or hope finds his place in the world before it’s too late.
The author includes an array of short stories that are sure to get the reader’s mind thinking. Would you leave everything you know and have for a violinmaker? Would you move across the ocean with a man you hardly know? One young woman gave it all up to move to Italy and live with a man she felt would make her happy? But, will she make the right decision as one other young man tries to convince her to stay in a story titled: My Second Breakup.
Next, the author recounts a strange tale of a young man named Nigel Moon whose memory about a special day eludes him. Entering his apartment unknown to him he faces a man we shall call The Haberdasher who insists that Nigel enlisted his services to fit him for a new tuxedo for a special day that he cannot remember. When trying to convince the man that he might not have brokered his services, our Haberdasher becomes violent and the end result will certainly make the reader think before hiring this man’s services in story two by our creative author titled The Haberdasher.
Next The Inquisitor where Inspector Klein becomes enamored with a woman who is applying for American citizenship. When becomes too friendly he retreats and realizes that he must keep a professional distance and has to adhere to the tests time limits. The story reminds us of the detachment many government workers show when dealing with the public. Our inspector soon regrets his cold demeanor as you see at the end of this story.
A young man is rejected by the Peace Corp to be hired by an organization called the Harmony Brigade in a country that is not on the map and by people who might not really exist or do they? Read Her Majesty’s Royal Mechanic to find out the fate of one young man who was hired to deal with the country’s economy but found himself smack dab in the middle of a problem involving a simple flat tire that needed to be executed. Why and the end result of this terrible predicament will definitely make you smile and wish that the answer to our money problems was a simple as printing more or as much as you need. Read this story and find out how the leaders solve their problems. There might be a job at the NDRIF waiting for you.
The Appearance and Coincidence is a unique story that the reader will enjoy dealing with the many people living in a community and the result of a hat that blows and a wind that creates many unfortunate situations. The final three stories are Decline and Fall, Fort Maple view Musical and The. Each of these stories deals with a writer whose goal it is to make money and to recreate history in their own way. Fort Mapleview is about a man who wants to resurrect a small town and bring it out of darkness and into the light.
The town’s people and the local officials prefer the town and its history to remain status quo but when one man named Fingle with the help of another named Sump collaborate you won’t believe what happens to this small town and its citizens. You need to read the story for yourself to see what one man does to put this small town on a bigger map. Next, Edwin Block has been enlisted to write the novel: Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire but can he do it and will it sell? Edwin Block is a New York Times bestselling author and what he does to get the job done will not endear you to him but will make you wonder about the publishing industry and the success of this man.
Mr. Sams his editor only interested in money and the benefits they reap presents a second story and finally Malcolm Bowles learns the fate of his novel after too many rejections and gives up on more than just his writing. The final story is title THE and it is really one mans rise to fame and downfall in life. Each story reverts back to our main character Charles Lime as each main character struggles to find himself and seek out a better life.
The characters in all of these short stories are not heroes that are not rich nor do they have anything more in their lives than Charles Lime our protagonist in our novella. Each character seems at a dead end job, or dead end life feeling that there might be something better out there but not knowing what. The girl in the first story thinks moving to Italy is the answer as our young man feels working for the Supreme Leader of an unknown country is his calling in life. Different in flavor and storyline yet the same with a strong feeling of hopelessness delivered in each plot and disappointments too as our author reminds us that there are not easy answers to life and everyone needs to work at it in their own way. Excuses are not acceptable and the end result is yours to bear and yours alone.
Stories that really make the reader think and will definitely elicit much discussion and varied viewpoints. Great for book clubs and discussion groups.
Author: Randall Devallance
Fran Lewis: Reviewer
Amazon posted with five stars