This is an amazing little book by a Canadian author who is new to me. It is a great premise for a novel, is excellently written. I was hooked on the first page and barely put it down.
“What if prison was the only word that existed for you now and everything else was a story?” Larry is to be executed by electric chair at twelve noon.
At one minute past midnight the chaplain arrives. Each must now refer to the other only as The Prisoner or The Chaplain. The corrections officers have numbers. No one has a name.
The Chaplain is a stand in for the regular chaplain who has to undergo emergency surgery. The new chaplain and the prisoner have never met. In the tiny, airless, windowless room with a bed and two chairs, next to the room where the execution will take place, the Prisoner begins his story. It is a journey for both men as the Chaplain reflects on his own life. He must often remind himself he is only there to listen, to stay in the moment. What would your story be if you only had twelve hours to live? Would it be the truth? Would it be how you see yourself? Would it be how you would have liked to live a fairy tale of your life? As The Prisoner says, “The smallest choices affect everything…”
The author is able to develop a very engaging plot and real people in these twelve short hours. It is not for the faint of heart, but I certainly recommend this read. I don’t know when I have felt so engaged, so filled with dread, so attuned to two personalities, so reminded to live in the present. I WILL be reading more of Berry’s books.