SHADOW OF ASHLAND
Terence M. Green
Forge Books, NY, $US17.95, $Cdn24.95, 221 pages, hardcover
(ISBN 0 312 85958 9)
This poignant if murky parable about love – old and new, lost and found – from a Canadian SF writer (Barking Dogs, 1988) is wonderfully imagined and poetically told. Days before she dies in March 1984, Leo Nolan’s mother shows her son a rose that she claims was just given to her by her brother Jack, who vanished 50 years ago. After her death, letters from Jack, postmarked 1934, begin to arrive at her house, inspiring Leo to leave Toronto in order to retrace the letters’ trail, which leads to Ashland, Ky. There, Leo visits Jack’s last known address, an anachronistic rooming house still operated after half a century by the same proprietors. In Ashland, the seeker finds love, through an affair with an unmarried mother with a young son, and also magic as he is transported across time to relive the last seven days of Jack’s life. Leo then returns to Canada, where he experiences not only a deepening of his life’s mysteries but also an epiphany involving his failed marriage and stillborn son. With Leo’s narration as evocative as the pages of a newly discovered family album, this proves a remarkably affecting literary work that the publishers rightly compare to Jack Finney’s Time and Again.