Trajectory, Richard Russo, author; "Horseman" read by Amanda Carlin, "Voice" read by Arthur Morey, "Intervention" read by Fred Sanders, "Milton and Marcus" read by Mark Bramhall
In this book of short stories, Russo has chosen characters who are faced with a life choice of going forward or remaining in the past, of having hope or of sinking into the lap of despair. Stories that could have been depressing are uplifting in the end, as all of the main characters choose what life has to offer them, rather than what life has given them, oftentimes, with disappointing consequences.
In “Horseman”, a college professor matures through the errors of her student’s ways. The student’s poor behavior causes her to review her own life choices. She comes to terms with her own social issues and chooses to broaden her horizons, to break free and make the necessary changes to improve her life rather than stay stuck in a protected environment that she has created for herself, rather than remain in the place she always thought would keep her safe!
In “Voice”, the main character is insecure. He has to come to terms with his past, has to learn to forgive himself as well as others, and then he has to go forward optimistically instead of dwelling on despair and his previous mistakes of judgment. He has to decide whether or not he is a good person, or whether he has to stay in the shadow of others as he always has done before, believing they are right and he is wrong.
In “Intervention, the economy has hit a recent downturn, and the real estate market has hit the realtors and the sellers strapped for cash. As the main character becomes more empathetic toward his clients feelings, he also becomes more introspective about himself and rediscovers his own will to live hopefully, rather than be stuck in the patterns of his family in the past, a pattern that apathetically accepted fate as if it could not be influenced by outside forces and as if it was predetermined.
In “Milton and Marcus”, a screenwriter is in a difficult position. He has to find a path forward with a wife who is seriously ill and a successful career that is in decline. It is, therefore, a story within a story. One part is his own story and the other is about Milton and Marcus, two estranged friends, a screenplay he has written. It is the screenplay that provides the impetus for him to go forward and be the man he wants to be, and perhaps, not exactly the kind of man he has been.
In each story, the main character is faced with what sometimes seems an insurmountable problem. The issue becomes the catalyst that propels the main character’s road forward, and determines how he/she comes to terms with how to proceed with living. All of the stories involve the character’s examination of his past behavior which acts as their guiding light to the way ahead. In some cases, a weakened, lesser character is the impetus for improvement. In each story, there is desperation, but the writing style and insertion of humor brings each one to a hopeful conclusion, one not steeped in pessimism, but rather in optimism, as each character finds a way to accept themselves, warts and all, and to accept that life might still present them with opportunity rather than defeat as they march into their futures. Each of the characters chooses to challenge themselves, to fly rather than remain tethered to the ground.