The book Scarecrow Has a Gun by Michael Paul Kozlowsky, is a book that challenges the reader to question everything about one’s memory.
The book’s premise is that the main character has a lack of memory about his late wife Gwen’s death — a death he witnessed. The death was said to be “tormenting” in its mystery. For 247 pages, we ask,” Will that memory ever come back?”
Sean Whittlesea is the man in question. He works for a man named Unger who regularly invites a number of widowers from at his company to compete for promotion to higher standing in the organization or…in some cases…to die trying. It’s an odd competition, but one that starts the story with a bang.
Whittlesea is a winner in one of Unger’s contests. His prize is a black box, a memory box that can replay all the memories. of Whittlesea’s life. Unger explains memory to the reader and to Whittlesea this way:
“You see, your memories do not vanish. There is no such thing as forgetting. Such an act could never be proved and justly so. Nothing is forgotten. Not for good. Whatever we believe to be forgotten is actually stored. Sometimes a memory can resurface, except we’re unaware of such an experience ever occurring in our lifetime. To us, it just seems like something new; maybe a deja vu of sorts. Memory always plays its games, having its way with us. We remember and forget arbitrarily. We may even swear one particular event never actually happened, when it did and vice versa. This is representative of all memory. Is something forgotten when all of a sudden, out of the blue, you are reminded of its existence years later by some unlikely trigger? No, it was just in remission.”
Whittlesea takes the box home and is given time off to sort through a lifetime of his memories. He can’t use the machine to skip forward to the time his wife died. He must experience childhood, love, fatherhood, trauma, misunderstandings..everything life has to offer.
The box is remarkable…yet it also is so compelling to Whittlesea that his family ultimately reacts and demands he get rid of the box. His then wife and mother of one of his children, Hayley, says, “If you can’t shut that god damn box off for good, you have to go until you can. And that’s it.” So Whittlesea tells her he will leave and he does. He is at one mixed up man at this point, yet we follow the story every step of the way. The reader wants to know more — about Whittlesea’s fate…and eventually about the murder.
Scarecrow Has a Gun is fascinating and extremely well written. Kozlowsky is a former high school English/Film teacher and has written four children’s books. “Scarecrow” is his first adult novel, and I enjoyed the journey….very much. More information about the book and the author is available on the publisher’s site.