An Hour in the Darkness
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Michael Bailey’s new novel charts the unsettling and powerful story of one young man’s slide into a confused reality.
‘I have been hugely inspired by JD Salinger – The Catcher in the Rye,’ observes Edinburgh author Michael. ‘I enjoy using the first person narrative and this style works well with An Hour in the Darkness.’
Michael’s novel begins when his narrator, Franklin, suffers a bang on his head that jars his grasp on reality. Franklin begins his desperate journey through his home town in his search of love, forgiveness and understanding. He finds comfort in conversations with his young sister Jenny – but as he reveals himself to be a highly unreliable narrator, we must ask if Jenny exists or is merely a figment of his troubled mind?
Franklin is increasingly losing touch with reality when, against the backdrop of a local landmark he meets a man he believes to be God. This stranger tells of his own son who had similar problems and in his increasing confusion Franklin believes the man is likening him to Jesus. As Franklin’s life spirals further out of control his behaviour becomes ever more erratic, culminating in his touching, frightening attempts to win the affections of market-girl Ronnie, who is fascinated and frightened in turn by this strange, funny, ill young man.
Dealing with such universal themes as loss, love, guilt, forgiveness, relationships and mental health, this is an unsettling, but powerful, novel which will appeal to readers of books such as The Shock of the Fall.
Why is it every time I’m with you in a public place I’ve got to whisper?” “I don’t know the answer to that, sir, I really don’t. It sure is something I’m going to think about though. I’m going to figure the answer to that one out and get right back to you.” Poor old Dad picked up his pint and finished it off in one manly swallow. His hands were shaking badly, but I didn’t mention it out of politeness. “You’d better go,” he said. “Okay, Dad. Sorry.” Anyway, after all the drama of seeing
The Almighty. And then, him taking his own name in vain like that. “I sure will, sir,” I promised. I got away from him as quickly as I could. I had to, I swear it. I couldn’t take much more. I was sorry I hadn’t got to ask him all the questions I’d wanted, but I was feeling suffocated by it all. I started to scramble back down the rocks. I suppose I was crying by then. God suddenly yelled down at me, and I stopped and turned around. He was sitting on a rock. He said the strangest thing to me.
beautiful about the whole thing, the kid stopped crying. I think we had a moment together over it or something. When the balloon was just a dot in the sky I looked back at God. Boy, was I staggered. He was still sitting on the grass and Old John looming out of the mist behind him. And believe this if you can: he was watching the balloon float up to heaven and not doing a thing to help. He was even smiling, for Chrissake. Listen, he was perhaps the only one who could get that damn balloon back
walking along the tight-rope of love, I know. Anyway, I figured that if Ronnie wouldn’t speak to me at the stall I would wait for her after work. So I hung around the edges of the market one frosty evening until she’d finished. Christmas was coming and there was a huge tree covered with lights next to the Clock Tower. It was all very meaningful, when you think about it. I’d made up my mind to ask Ronnie if she wanted me to walk her home. Christ, I knew that if I didn’t at least try I’d end up
you do that?” “I did it because I love you,” I said. “That’s bullshit. That’s from story books and films, for crying out loud, that’s not real life. No one does that in real life. Please! I almost wished to God that you hadn’t done it. Don’t you understand that? I can’t deal with it.” Old Ronnie sure was getting worked up. It was beginning to get a bit embarrassing. I’m like that. You can be pouring your heart out to me and telling me the most important thing in your life, like you love me,