In Revealing Moments, Wayne Scheers’ collection of twenty-four of prose vignettes, we are plunged right into dark, hopeful, nostalgic and passionate moments of people’s lives. True to form, each vignette is extremely short, ranging from one paragraph to nearly two pages at most.
In each carefully crafted snapshot the reader is voyeur to pivotal moments that presumably shape each characters’ reality for better or worse. These incidents can be catalysts for important change and within that there is a sense of hope.
A retired writing and literature professor, Scheer’s stories are very well written and filled with brilliant metaphors that crop up like the islands of sweetness and joy we experience throughout our lifetimes. Scheer writes with a wry sense of humor and above all, provides an accurate portrayal of the human condition.
Comparable to the heartbreaks of life, there are several oppressive or abusive characters in Revealing Moments. In “Climbing High,” a child climbs a tree to escape his abusive father, who is throwing rocks and snapping his belt “like a lion tamer’s whip.”
Carolyn, a pregnant character in “Pig Roast,” watches “as the men in her family roasted a fat pig.” The men spray Coca Cola onto the animal to tenderize and “sweeten the meat” and Carolyn’s husband jokes that “she sure could use some tenderizin’ her own self.”
In “The First Wife,” a daughter observes an objectification of women that results in serial marriages for her father. About his fourth wife she says, “soon he’ll tire of her and she’ll become another painting he once bought, but can’t recall why.”
What is perhaps my favorite line in the book can be found in “The Old Oak Tree.” A man alone in the dimming sunset of his life, faces the transition from Fall to Winter in his front yard and the narrative reads: “The oak tree would soon offer no shade, and its leaves, as scattered as an old man’s memories, would be little more than a nuisance.”
Another sweet moment can be found in “The Storm.” Woken in the night by a raging storm, a couple “make(s) gentle love amidst nature’s chaos.” I found myself searching, frustrated, for other uncomplicated and lovely portrayals of life. That being said, I am not a reader looking for an idealized, sanitized or otherwise sugarcoated version of reality. As I hope any work of art will, _Revealing Moments _provoked a response from me on multiple levels; it inspired emotion, reflection and thoughtful inquiry. Overall this collection, which illustrates the mundane tragedies of everyday people, left me feeling kind of blue.
The material may be somewhat melancholy but it is held together with threads of beautiful writing, and much like the duality of life itself, is worth experiencing.