Thurs­day, 1:17 p.m.

Michael Landwe­ber

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction - BRADLEY A. SCOTT

Cof­fee­town Press Soft­cover $13.95 (208pp) 978-1-60381-357-0

Thurs­day, 1:17 pm is an un­con­ven­tional and in­trigu­ing novel that blends thought­ful in­sight with an ir­rev­er­ent, any­thing-goes at­ti­tude rem­i­nis­cent of Chuck Palah­niuk.

Michael Landwe­ber’s Thurs­day, 1:17 pm is a thought-pro­vok­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal fan­tasy. On a crit­i­cally stress­ful day in his young life, seven­teen-year-old “Duck” finds his world sud­denly frozen in time, ex­cept for him­self. He is the sole mov­ing be­ing in a world gone ut­terly and eerily still. Alone with his thoughts, he wan­ders through a world full of peo­ple paused in the mid­dle of their daily lives: speed­ing cars frozen in mid swerve; jet­lin­ers fan­tas­ti­cally hov­er­ing in midair.

Other writ­ers, in­clud­ing Ni­chol­son Baker and John D. Macdon­ald, have ex­plored sim­i­lar con­cepts, but un­like their pro­tag­o­nists, Duck has no ap­par­ent con­trol over the freez­ing of his world, and no idea how to un­freeze it.

Duck is an amus­ingly sar­donic and self-aware nar­ra­tor whose dead­pan ob­ser­va­tions about the phys­i­cal prac­ti­cal­i­ties of life in his new sit­u­a­tion take the form of para­graphs from an imag­ined travel guide to the “frozen world.” He’s rather less per­cep­tive about the emo­tional tur­moil of his own life. Like most teenagers, he’s un­stop­pably cu­ri­ous about sex and friend­ship and love, and the puz­zling nexus be­tween them. Also, jus­tice and equal­ity. And death. And mad­ness.

Landwe­ber sub­tly varies the tone through­out the book. Some of the sit­u­a­tions Duck en­coun­ters in his soli­tary ex­is­tence are com­i­cal. Others are dan­ger­ous, dis­cour­ag­ing, or tit­il­lat­ing. (Who knew, Duck ob­serves, that so many peo­ple take show­ers, or have sex, at 1:17 in the af­ter­noon?) Some are fright­en­ing … es­pe­cially those that bring Duck clos­est to the parts of his life that he’d like to for­get, or never un­der­stood in the first place.

Brows­ing through a paused world may give Duck the chance he needs to re­assess and reeval­u­ate his own life, if he can ever find a way to restart it. If the soli­tude doesn’t drive him crazy. If he’s not al­ready crazy. Or worse.

Thurs­day, 1:17 pm is an un­con­ven­tional and in­trigu­ing novel that blends thought­ful in­sight with an ir­rev­er­ent, any­thing-goes at­ti­tude rem­i­nis­cent of Chuck Palah­niuk. It’s a fun read that also gives some­thing to think about af­ter its fi­nal page.

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