The Memory Tree
John R. Little

Nocturne Press
Reviewed By Nickolas Cook

“That was when I realized I needed to trust my eyes and ears more than my memories.”

If one line can sum up John R. Little’s debut novel, The Memory Tree, from the fine folks at Nocturne Press, this is surely it, as the author illustrates the defects of memory – its cheats and swindles.

Sitting somewhere between Koontz and Matheson, The Memory Tree, tells the engrossing streamlined story of Sam Ellis, an aging, emotionally wounded man, who suddenly gains the ability to ‘dissolve’ into his own imperfect past to resolve those things that have haunted him throughout his adult life.  The catch is that Sam doesn’t go back as his child self of those yester years, but as his adult self – a wiser, but still confused man of fifty odd years of age.  There, he must confront the parents whom he hated, his lost brother, murdered friends, and a particularly nasty individual who was the true monster of his youth.

Little keeps the story moving at a pace that belies such weighty concepts, while cleverly conjoining major plot points so that the multiple denouements cover several of them at once.  Structurally, this is a man who knows how to put a tale together.  But beyond that sophisticated literary device, one will find that Little also knows the language, and has a poetic sense of his craft.  I’d stack many a phrase captured within The Memory Tree with anything Bradbury or Keene has produced.  I mentioned Matheson and Koontz earlier in this review, and I can guarantee his readers will find echoes of both of those masters herein.  The pacing, the craftsmanship, the prose- this is a novel that lends itself to being read in one sitting.  Little knows the importance of keeping the reader guessing.  Sam’s flawed memories of all the joys and horrors of his childhood are twisted, one after another, until the mind-bending end, indeed, until even the narrator is unsure of what is real and what is misremembered past.

The Memory Tree puts Little at the top of my watch list for fresh new voices, and I anticipate that his future works will prove me out.  He is a writer with which to be reckoned.

[tags]The Memory Tree, John R. Little[/tags]

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