We’ve all done it – dashed out the door of a morning, the clock ticking, trains threatening to depart the station before we make it to the platform, a foggy sense that we’ve missed something in all that chaotic freneticism.
But I can guarantee that you have not been as entertaining as Harry Marples, a new everyperson hero for our times who manages, in one morning to forget to feed his cat, leave his phone in the bathroom, his keys on the coffee table, and his confidence in his consummate ability to adult somewhere messily in-between.
It gets worse of course with all kinds of hilarious – for us as voyeurs silently, or not so silently, thinking “There but the grace of the commuter god go I” – things happening to poor harried Mr Marples one after the other; our protagonist, though, isn’t laughing as he stumbles, despite his best efforts from one bumpy calendar blip to another.
The joy of Sharon Livingstone’s thoroughly entertaining short story is how perfectly she captures both the frustration and absurdity of days held aloft by gremlins, all of whom possess healthy subscriptions to Murphy’s Law.
With a cheeky sensibility and light buoyant, often funny prose, Livingstone encapsulates the nightmarish hilarity of days when not one thing goes well, and where our attempts at damage control simply lead ever more spectacular knock-on effects, and an ever-declining sense that we can handle the heady demands of adulthood.
One of the things that’s so delightful and likeable about Harry is that he’s not some airheaded klutz (although he doubtless feels like that by the end his existentially-exhausting morning); rather he’s a competent, in-control professional having the kind of bad day any of us could have, a kind man who chases down thieves who steal womens’ purses (well, in a manner of speaking; gleefully all is not as it seems even with this altruistic deed) and consummately-talented guy who handles meetings with clients with ease.
Assuming he can make it to the office, of course.
Livingstone excels in not only quickly and fulsomely setting up the world that Harry inhabits, but also in bringing him to life in his everydayness almost instantaneously.
By the end of the first page (see above), you feel like you know Harry, and know him very well, so adroitly does the author let us into Harry’s all-too-readily-relateable thoughts, emotions and ever-more-messed-up actions.
He is all of us, a sweet, adorable guy who’d like to have everything together but doesn’t, and while you will laugh at his unintended antics, you will also feel for Harry since he’s not some idiotic clown – he is you, he is me and he is all winningly human.
Want to feel better about your day? Harry is your man, his story the archetype for all those days that end with red wine and comfort food, and of which, we hope and pray, we have as little experience as possible.
To read Livingstone’s wonderful tale for yourself, go to Smashwords.