This is the last post in the Short-Shorts Blog
Literary sketches depicting slices of life
in 50 stories published between 08/06/2013 and 07/15/2014.
In the last element of this blog the time has come to take off the mask for surely all readers have recognized that Stephen and Elijah are one in the same. Elijah came into my imagination in 1994 when I felt the need of a teller to relate the stories of Lost River Bridge. The inspiration was my great-great-grandfather Charles Taber 1783 -1853; a traveling Quaker preacher among the many Tabers to emigrate to Quebec from Vermont. About 1950, Elspeth and I visited the cemetery in the Eastern Townships of Quebec where he is buried.
In my storytelling at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, Elijah became an entertaining character who needed a home in the Ozark Mountains and hence came Lost River Bridge. Lacking the voice control to speak in the dialect of the Ozarks, Elijah came from Canada and since he needed a background, whose better than my own. Thus the page titled Stephen & Elijah at the beginning of the publications introduces Elijah to the world with Stephen in the role of reporter. The stories expanded into a 340 page book.
I published the first edition in 2001 consisting of twenty episodes, some of them based on true experiences, most fictitious. At that time I participated in a nation-wide writers group. I offered to send anyone in the group a free book in exchange for a review. The response astounded me, some of which appear on page 342 of the second edition under the title "What Others Have Said." For example, Michael Helms, editor, Karmichael Press: QUOTE: Against the backdrop of a rustic Ozark community, Stephen P. Byers paints a humorous and poignant story of a war-traumatized young veteran seeking solace among his mountain kinfolk. With tall tales, family legends and the unraveling of a centuries-old mystery, Elijah Taber's heartfelt narrative exposes the reader to a sense of family and way of life largely forgotten by mainstream America. UNQUOTE
More recently an Amazon "Vine Voice" reviewer wrote the following: QUOTE: "Lost River Bridge" by Stephen P. Byers is the story of Elijah Taber. Returning from the War in 1946, Elijah is scarred by the battles he has seen. His hands shake as he tries to sip a cup of coffee with his mother. His mother sagely suggests he spends some time with a remote branch of their family, the Tabers in Missouri. Nestled deep in the Ozarks, the Missouri Tabers have struggled and survived in that harsh landscape. Byers tells the stories of the people of Lost River Bridge, in their own words. Each chapter is a miniature novel in itself, as the characters warp and weave around one another. The uniting thread of all these stories is a Saint Christopher medal that was given to Granny Taber 150 years ago.
The strength of this novel is Byers' ability to tell a tale in the true style of the Ozark storytellers. When reading this novel, you're never quite sure what is fact and what is fiction. However, this story-telling style also does not lend itself well to fluid reading. There were several passages that had to be read out loud or re-read before they could be understood. There are nuances in vocabulary and punctuation that needed special attention while reading. UNQUOTE
I am honored and grateful. Lost River Bridge may be purchased in paperback or ebook formats through http://booksbybyers.us/30LB01.html or directly through Amazon.com
With this, the fiftieth story in the Short-Shorts Blog, I say adieu with gratitude
to all my readers for your interest, loyalty and support. Thank you.
Stephen P. Byers