The Watch review

watchApril 20th is the perfect day to review The Watch by Dennis Danvers, a book very much concerned with dates and times. This particular date in 1999 figures prominently in the story. Ten years later The Watch, though no longer in print, ought to figure more prominently in the ongoing conversation. I came to this book by way of a recommendation from Kelly Justice, proprietor of The Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia. I mentioned in a previous post that I was having some difficulty locating a copy but I would continue searching.  My search didn’t take long: the author found that post, left a comment, and sent me a signed copy! So I thank Kelly Justice for her recommendation and Dennis Danvers for his generosity and ingenuity!

The Watch is narrated by Peter Kropotkin, a Russian anarchist from the 19th century.  On his deathbed he is approached by a mysterious figure from the future named Anchee who offers to restore him to life and health if he will do Anchee’s bidding.  Kropotkin accepts without questioning Anchee’s intentions, which he comes to regret and resent.  Kropotkin is restored in the future, when all of his acquaintances are no more, and sent to the foreign city of Richmond, Virginia aboard the foreign conveyance of an airplane.  He arrives with no money, no contacts, and no instructions from Anchee.  He has already lived as an exile however, so he does speak English and has moderate survival skills.  Between his abilities, his charisma, and the intervention of some generous residents of Richmond (like Danvers!) he gets along rather well.  Until he learns that all of these interventions, right down to seemingly chance meetings, have been orchestrated by Anchee, not chance at all.  He has become the subject of an experiment.  If everything he desires (love, anarchy, equality) is arranged for him but not by him, will it still be desirable?

I enjoyed this read on many levels.  As a History and Russian major, I appreciated the treatment of the narrator’s background as well as the setting.  As a U2 fan it made me think of the lines “She said “Time is irrelevant, it’s not linear”/Then she put her tongue in my ear” from the song “No Line On The Horizon.”  As an author working on a book that takes place in Virginia, specifically in Richmond, I gained a crucial perspective of the city that I was lacking.  I haven’t met anyone from the future, but finding this book was so fortuitous it almost seems prearranged by some meddling traveler!

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