By Jeffrey Fleishman
(Steerforth Press, Paperback, 9781586421984, 198pp.)
Publication Date: August 21, 2012
List Price: $15.95*
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Foreign correspondent James Ryan was there whenever the world changed: in the Middle East, in the Balkans, in the former Soviet bloc. But now he can't remember these events; he can't recall anything long-term, except the summer of his fifteenth year following his mother's death. It was the summer his father told him to call him Kurt. The summer the mysterious and enchanting Vera burst into their lonely, quiet lives. The summer his own world opened, then irrevocably changed.
James, at fifty-two, suffers from a severe case of early onset Alzheimer's. The novel unravels James's predicament through the clear glimpses he retains of that long ago summer, and through the desperate attempts of his wife and his nurse to bring him back to the present, if only for stolen moments. Each has her motives: his wife trying not to lose the man with whom she shared so much - wars, death, love, loss of a child, history. And his nurse, the half sister he never knew he had, needing James’s adolescent memory to understand the biological father and mother she never met.
Told from the perspective of a man betrayed by his own mind, Shadow Man is a novel of identity and suspense that travels across continents and deep into the pasts that make us each who we are. It explores the power of memory to heal and to mask, and of the limits of unconditional love. Set in Philly and the eastern shore of yesteryear, in the Middle East, and throughout Eastern Europe, Fleishman's trademark descriptive but spare lyricism shines. Shadow Man is a touching and haunting novel perhaps most similar to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, though it is a work of fiction.