Friday, May 4, 2012

The Promised Shore - Vic Rubenfeld

Author: Vic Rubenfeld
Date: 2011
Setting: uncertain- perhaps early 20th century- see commentary
Availability: Buy The Promised Shore on Smashwords

Story: A young man, Nolan, and his friends, find a mirror resting on the ice in the middle of a frozen lake. Nolan and Halstead walk over the ice to retrieve the mirror, and each sees a glimpse of some hidden portion of their soul. Taking the mirror back to the group, Malcomb also is shown something beyond his mere reflection. Isabel and Adrian choose to look at each other’s reflection and see such things as young lovers might find in the depths of their beloved’s heart.

But the mirror clouds, and this one brief vision is all that is revealed. Nolan, however, is not content to let the search for meaning end.

Commentary: This short story really needs to be read a couple of times to understand what’s going on, and there is room for more than one interpretation. Is the mirror magical, or was the timing simply right for the young people to briefly see past their shallow existence?

Nolan could be symbolic of the few people who strive throughout life to find meaning.

The story is written in long, complex sentences, with antiquated language. This adds somewhat to the sense of mysticism, but does make it difficult to read. You need to get your mind into the grove of the style for it to flow. Once you do this, however, it works well for the introspective nature of the tale. There is a sense that this happened in a past age. The language and the characters’ names suggest this.

However, later in the story a photograph is introduced, which is jarring. Suddenly, we are forced to accept that this is a relatively modern setting. The clothing in the photograph rather exactly dates the story, and then the characters’ names no longer made sense for that era. Personally, I had a hard time with the photograph. Before that, the story could have been in almost any time or place, or even any world– perhaps it was fantasy. After that, I began to struggle with the mechanics, and forgot to follow the thread of meaning.

One nice touch is that early on, Nolan sees himself in a regular mirror and barely recognizes the person. This sets up the reader for the value of what the mirror from the ice reveals.

Author info: Vik Rubenfeld Created the hit CBS TV Series, EARLY EDITION, which starred Kyle Chandler as a man who received tomorrow's news today. Vik is also a Director of Market Research. He is married and lives in Los Angeles. Vic Rubenfeld's web page

Language skills 8
Depth of meaning 6