Michael Keith’s book Perspective Drifts Like a Log on a River is a marvelous collection of exactly what the title suggests – perspectives. Keith is masterful at guiding his readers on unique journeys to places they would not visit on their own. It takes extraordinary imagination to forge the ironic, satirical, witty, probing and sensitive paths of this authorial treasure.
Any writer or aspiring one could not help but smile after reading “Blank Page” in which Gerald “urgently” wants to become a writer. He invests heavily in reaching his goal while living a fascinating life. But what does Gerald do? He concludes that he doesn’t have material from which to draw inspiration even as it is before him each and every day.
You might wonder while reading Keith’s work if he finds all of us a little odd. Surely he has met a “Book Worm” like the one who pretends to read massive tomes, even purchasing them to give to friends so they might consider him sophisticated. Keith has likely met (or perhaps is) the man who concludes his wife is mentally unsound because she disagrees with him in the perfectly titled “Hearing Problems.”
The author takes a jab at “dumb humans” who don’t believe life exists elsewhere in the universe. There are 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets in the observable universe. So surely, Keith writes, someone somewhere can actually spell out that number.
There’s no shortage of “what-ifs.” For example, the man who lives a good life only to learn from St. Gabriel that it was too good for entry into Heaven. Fortunately, most of us haven’t crossed that line. But who even knew one existed? And what if you spent your life being a florist, loving flowers, only to be asked when it’s too late: “Why do you insist on killing them?”
Keith takes one of several gender-difference forays in “Upon Witnessing a Dialogue Between Aliens.” Two female “friends” disparage each other until their husbands must leave the room for fear of bloodshed. Not long after, the women emerge arm and arm wondering if anyone can understand how men think.
One of my very favorites is also the title of the book. Perspective does drift like a log on a river. Dan Simmons, age 59, overcomes early adversity to achieve a “bucolic existence” with his loving wife and two adorable children. Yet, one day he finds himself plagued by feelings of remorse about his entire life. Had he lost everything or, like so many of us, simply lost perspective?
This is a book about absurdities and contradictions that most of us let pass. Michael Keith opens our eyes to them. He toys with our expectations. Just when you think you have his perspective down, when you’re sure the next insight will be at someone’s expense, Keith tells us of Eugene Bickford whose wife welcomes him to the afterlife for another wonderful journey.
Keith’s book is also a wonderful journey. Whether you prefer novels, short stories, poems or vignettes, you will find delectable pleasure in the provocative Perspective Drifts Like a Log on a River.