Moments in Time: A Collection of Short Stories
by Brian Wilson
Trafford Pubishing

"Who would have thought that this could happen in Christchurch – at one time considered the least likely city in New Zealand to have a large earthquake?"

Brian Wilson was on the streets in Christchurch, New Zealand in February 2011 when the city experienced an intense earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 on the Richter scale. The quake and its aftershocks brought down church steeples, office buildings, and people's homes. In the year that followed, Wilson wrote a series of short stories that capture the time-stopping shock of the disaster and the surreal return to an ordinary life of schedules and appointments in the aftermath.

An aptly named collection, Moments in Time considers the subjective nature of time's passage. Train schedules and alarm clocks mark daily time for one character, while another reels from the shock of not recognizing his 85-year-old mother in a nursing home hallway. This contemplation of time’s nuances could become tiresome, but Wilson's combination of realism and humor keeps these slice-of-life vignettes fresh and engaging. Wilson’s intimacy with the places he writes about shows in several delightful anecdotes.

In one, a character plagued with sand fleas while tenting in the Southern Alps of New Zealand laments that the fleas "invade the privacy of your tent and find a part of your face to stake a claim." These unique, humorous moments help the reader to forgive Wilson when he occasionally strays into fact-filled descriptions reminiscent of tourist guidebooks.

Several of Wilson's poems appear between the tales, offering vivid imagery that describes the earthquake itself. "Rolling, bowling, the ground it’s shifting/Shaking, breaking, dropping, lifting," writes Wilson in a piece simply entitled Earthquakes. Other poems overflow with cliché and rhyme, but the poetry provides another viewpoint in a collection that is all about changing perspectives.

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