Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Book Review: 'Crossing In Time' by D.L. Orton

Colorado author D. L. Orton has been writing short stories for some time now. She is a graduate of Stanford University's Writers Workshop and a past editor of "Top of the Western Staircase," a literary publication of University of Colorado, Boulder. Her short stories have been published in online literary magazines, including, Melusine, Cosmoetica, The Ranfurly Review, and Catalyst Press. CROSSING IN TIME: THE 1st DISASTER is her debut novel.

Watch out, now, DL Orton has come on the scene and in her first novel (her brain cells must be tuned to humor at all times) she bolts impressively both into an action piece and into one zany style of creating bizarre situations. Time travel? Fantasy? It is difficult to label the contents, but simply reading the Prologue gives a strong idea that we're dealing with a uniquely gifted mind: (A few years from now) The chubby gun trader shifts his weight and looks up at me, one eye squeezed shut. "What sort of firearm you lookin' to purchase, ma'am?" He's enthroned on a maroon chintz armchair in front of a burned-out Walmart. "Handgun," I say. "Something easy to aim and shoot." Behind me, a handful of men mill about a few meager stalls. I can feel their stares pecking against my back, an unarmed woman traveling alone. I force down a flood of disturbing memories and focus on the task at hand: protecting myself in a world gone all to hell. "You come to the right place, little lady." He glances down at my hiking boots and then drags his gaze up my torso, his top lip curling. "I got a Walther P-22 I might be willin' to trade." I've never heard of Walther, and I have no idea what a P-22 is-- for all I know, it could be a water pistol. I stand there staring at him, unable to get my brain to engage.....I trudge back across the decaying blacktop and up the old highway, periodically glancing back to make sure no one is following me. As soon as the Walmart is out of sight, I vomit all over my gore-spattered boots. Oh my god, Diego, what have we done?`

This is a wild and totally enjoyable ride, and the spacey synopsis is best worded by the author: `If someone took everything you live for, how far would you go to get it back? When offered a one-way trip to the past, Isabel sacrifices everything for a chance to change the rapidly deteriorating present--and see her murdered lover one last time. When she arrives twenty years in the past, buck-naked and mortally wounded, she has 24 hours to convince a stunned but enraptured nineteen-year-old to change their future. Definitely easier said than done, as success means losing him to a brainy, smart-mouthed bombshell (her younger self), and that's a heart breaker, save the world or not. This offbeat tale is about falling madly in love when one is too cynical for such things, letting go of pessimism when it's the last life jacket on a sinking ship, and racing against the clock when one doesn't have the proper footwear. It's a coming-of-age story for old fogeys, a how-to-make-love guide for diehard celibates, and a laugh-out-loud tragedy with a hopeful twist.'

Were it not written so extremely well, this book could be mistaken for a standup comedienne routine - that is how packed with humor and parody and absurdity and on-fire imagination this book is. As a debut novel it is astonishingly fine and can only make us hope the next episode will be coming down the line soon. Brava! Grady Harp, June 15

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.