Steak and Baloney: The Time Traveler
by Kenzel May

"If everything had worked as planned, it was about nine o’clock in the morning on April 27, 1856."

May embarks on a risky literary and time-travel adventure to Coal Hill, Arkansas. He grew up on his father’s cotton farm near Lubbock, Texas, in the 1950s and 1960s and developed an appreciation for the wholesome, hardworking, agrarian family life that was the norm across nineteenth-century America (minus modern technology, of course), a lifestyle still active today, though gradually disappearing.

When May’s unexplained engagement with a time machine is successful, he embarks on an intriguing plan. He poses as Ray Jones and ventures from his crossroads landing point to find his great-great-grandfather Philip May’s farm, where the senior May built a log cabin in 1850. Armed with twenty-first-century knowledge and historical hindsight, Ray offers his services as a farmhand. Fortunately, May’s ability to guide an old-fashioned plow-planter pulled by mules passes muster with Philip. May spends the next two months working on the farm among his ancestors, including his three-year-old great-grandfather, whose family line obviously continues. May knows the sad fate of the two older May brothers who would be lost to the carnage of the Civil War but doesn’t reveal it.

The plot and story arc feel a bit lean in places but are well-emphasized in May’s simple but strong narrative voice that gives this tale country charm and humor aplenty. The historical facts and family genealogy are well researched but could have been utilized more to deepen the story and extend it. May can be very proud, though, of this imaginative volume of his family background and legacy. Perhaps an odd stranger will mysteriously appear at some dusty Texas crossroads among May’s descendants, a writer who will dictate the sequel to this engaging family saga.

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