‘Sometimes In This Life’ by Don Frankel

Two men journey through their lives both 60 years apart and together; in war, in peace, in love, in business and in death. The two basic constructs in fiction, are the short story and the novel. The short story in the classic form, is always built around an ending that is stunning, shocking. But the characters only exist in relation to that ending. The reader never really gets to know them. In the novel the characters go on a journey and the reader travels with them. This journey mirrors our own lives. It can be the ten years of Homer’s Ulysses or the single day of Joyce’s Ulysses. But it is a long journey that reveals the characters inner lives which gain depth and meaning, as the journey unfolds. The novel’s ending can be poignant, revealing and enduring but it can never match the impact of the short story ending because the reader knows too much. ‘Sometimes In This Life’ is a combination of both constructs. Although it is only 130 pages, it is a journey of two men and each echoes the other’s life, making the story seem longer in both depth and time but the central question remains a mystery. As the characters exist sixty years apart, the reader is constantly wondering why the similarities in thought and action? In the end, the reader finds out why?

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