An accident sets off the events of Sara Baker’s novel The Timekeeper’s Son (Deeds Publishing, 2016), landing one character in the hospital. Ms. Baker, whose story "The Sun in Cannes" appeared in the Spring 2015 Intima, weaves together the voices of numerous characters whose lives become entwined by the accident. Set in Georgia, the novel portrays the ways a random accident can transform individuals and whole communities as well as how small town life narrows and defines the lives of its residents.
The action of the novel centers on David Masters, a well respected town activist and the victim of the accident, and his wife Meg, a childless schoolteacher, who struggles to rebuild her life in its wake. We also follow teenage Josh, whose aspirations to become a filmmaker are at odds with his father Hal’s engineering ambitions for him. Josh’s efforts to connect with a withdrawn wheelchair-bound child provide some of the book’s most poignant moments.
The disruption caused by the accident creates a chance for Josh’s mother, Helen, to pursue an long-abandoned art career. Ms. Baker’s descriptions add texture to this fast-paced novel when she writes that Helen “caught herself looking at everything, noticing the sweep of a tree’s branches or the voluptuousness of clouds piling on the horizon like whipped cream.” Hal, Josh’s father, owns a clock shop where the clocks “created a velvet hum of ticking,” and for whom the intricate workings of a clock represent the sense of order he tries to regain in his life.
Ms. Baker strives to present a nuanced understanding of the swirl of emotions that beset people when bad events occur, and she mostly succeeds. Careful plotting and the varied voices of the characters, along with several imaginative twists, make up for any shortcomings. The Timekeeper’s Son is a story of generations, about what we gain and lose as we mature. But most of all it’s about the ways we reach out to each other to offer and accept help, and the ways we forgive and are forgiven. Perhaps Ms. Baker sums the novel’s themes best when she writes that for Meg, “Petty concerns seemed just that, petty, and life suddenly seemed more capricious, mysterious, and also more significant than before David Masters’ accident.”- Priscilla Mainardi
PRISCILLA MAINARDI, a registered nurse, attended the University of Pennsylvania and earned her MFA degree in creative writing from Rutgers University. Her work appears in numerous journals, most recently The Examined Life Journal and Prick of the Spindle. She teaches English Composition at Rutgers in Newark, New Jersey. Her short story “Pretending Not to Know” appeared in the Spring 2014 Intima. She joined the editorial board of the Intima in 2015.