Many Sec­onds Into the Future

  • Review
By – May 22, 2014

Ten men, ten sto­ries; ten emo­tion­al con­sid­er­a­tions of death and dying, grief, fam­i­ly, spir­i­tu­al­i­ty, prayer, hon­esty, and lega­cy. With each man we enter deeply into the core of con­cern. We are inside his head at every debate, every tinge of pain, haunt­ing mem­o­ry, and long­ing for love. We come through the jour­ney with a sense of empa­thy and compassion.

The sto­ries address strong Jew­ish iden­ti­ty issues that have chal­lenged us for gen­er­a­tions. The weav­ing of life events and Juda­ic thought and prac­tice is seam­less, and filled with thought­ful beauty.

Among the mem­o­rable char­ac­ters are Michael and Har­ry, each search­ing for mean­ing through prayer. Michael, des­per­ate­ly miss­ing his beloved broth­er, reads and talks to him each day. Nev­er a believ­er, he sur­pris­ing­ly finds solace, say­ing kad­dish at a dai­ly minyan ser­vice. Har­ry, a late-in-life obser­vant Jew, waits for some life-affirm­ing mes­sage from God as he lains tefill­in each morn­ing. One day, he sens­es some­thing radi­at­ing through the box. This sets off a famil­iar and then enlight­en­ing chain of events in his most­ly Chris­t­ian community.

Anoth­er char­ac­ter, David, wrought with grief over the recent loss of his first wife, and as well, the ear­li­er loss of their son, is sur­prised with a lov­ing vis­it from his youngest son from a sec­ond mar­riage. The vibrant young man, brim­ming with plans for the future, shares his news. Bask­ing in the joy of the moment David begins to under­stand, All the chil­dren are Isaac. And some­times the ram is nowhere to be found.”

In the open­ing lines of the title sto­ry, Many Sec­onds into the Future,” Daniel learns that he is dying. Too young, too vibrant, he keeps it secret from all until he can no longer hide the symp­toms. He savors every remain­ing moment with his wife and chil­dren. As the end nears, he expe­ri­ences a sense of pre­sen­ti­ment” where he’s pro­pelled not a split sec­ond but many sec­onds into the future.” He thinks, Maybe this dam­age is a gift from God. If so, it’s a curi­ous gift, sud­den­ly to be thrust inside anoth­er per­son.” And John J. Clay­ton does just that with these remark­able stories.

Relat­ed content:

Pen­ny Metsch, MLS, for­mer­ly a school librar­i­an on Long Island and in New York City, now focus­es on ear­ly lit­er­a­cy pro­grams in Hobo­ken, NJ.

Discussion Questions