Monday, May 23, 2016

Thursday 1:17 P.M.

At first, fans of time travel novels and short stories might not know what to make of Michael Landweber’s Thursday 1:17 P.M.  After all, the novel’s narrator/hero (a teenager whom everyone calls Duck) moves neither forward nor backward in time during the entire novel.  Duck would, in fact, be perfectly happy if he could simply figure out how to get time started again, because right now he is the only thing moving in a world in which every other living thing and machine is frozen solid at 1:17 on the worst Thursday afternoon of his life.

How bad a day is Duck having?  Well, consider this: minutes earlier, he walked away from his mother’s deathbed; his father is institutionalized; and Duck has just stepped directly into the path of the speeding car that is destined to smash him into pieces.  But suddenly the clock stops ticking, and Duck finds himself staring into the eyes of the driver who is about to crush him.  So he simply steps away from the intersection. 

Thus begins one of the strangest coming-of-age novels a reader is ever likely to encounter.  Duck will be eighteen years old tomorrow – but will tomorrow ever get here, or is Duck destined to remain forever a seventeen-year-old boy grieving the loss of his mother?

Michael Landweber
Survival proves to be surprisingly easy in a world in which everything is literally frozen in in the instant during which time stopped.  Washington D.C. grocery stores are filled with food and drink that never spoils; the temperature never varies; shelter is available everywhere Duck turns (if he can just figure out when it is time to get some sleep); and everything in the nearby shopping mall is his for the taking.  All around him, people are frozen in the act of walking, falling, fighting, or making love.  Everyone but Duck is waiting for the next tick of the clock to determine their fate.  Now what?

Ironically, it a world in which time has frozen, Duck has nothing but time on his hands, time to think about his past, time to miss his parents and his friends, and time to figure out what he would do differently if only the rest of the world would catch up with him again.  But in order to do any of these things, first he has to figure out a way to get time flowing.  Can a boy really come-of-age in a world in which he lives entirely alone, or is his situation akin to the tree that falls in the forest when no one is around to hear it hit the ground? 

You’ll have to read Thursday 1:17 P.M. to find out.

(Review Copy provided by Publisher)


  1. That sounds interesting. Definitely an original premise.

    1. First time I've run into it, for sure. Left open a lot of possibilities for a kid fighting hormones and a prankiish nature. He took cow-tipping to new heights, for instance, and had to fight hard to keep his morals in place.


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