It’s more humane to face a firing squad than a classroom, humiliated because of illiteracy. One is swift, the other leads to a lifetime of isolation and hardship. Timekeeper is my triumph over letters. Parts of my journey are no longer clear. Forty-eight years later, I have re-imagined events that seem most consistent to my memory. In 1959 ground swept under my feet like a starving man scrambling for his next meal. I’d fled a dysfunctional family in Virginia. I met many people along the way, but no one could compare with Chief in Oklahoma. He filled a void in me and taught me how to join together the many pieces of life. Chief wasn t surprised that I’d crossed the country at the age of fourteen. I was a big kid and had become hardened to the ways of the streets. Right away Chief understood why I didn’t fit in. The main thing was, I couldn’t read. He looked into my soul and saw the suffering I’d endured in the white man’s world. He also saw into my future. Anyone with a lick of sense would ve been frightened of Chief, an old medicine man with strange powers. But after everyone else had given up on me, he saw how I could help myself. At first I thought he was foolish as a fish flopping on a riverbank when he said I should go north to a place he’d visited as a boy. Hell, that was back before we had automobiles. But he said I would go with a great power. I couldn’t imagine where the power would come from. I thought it had to be a strong car, a big Buick Road Master. Every boy my age wanted a car. But the old man gave me a name, Timekeeper. I was no longer Johnnyboy, the affectionate name my Mama had called me. But the gift of the new name stayed a mystery for forty-eight years, the time it took me to figure out Chief’s predictions. For all those years I’ve searched for his meaning, and now I know.
“Within the first few pages, John Atkinson’s Timekeeper had weaved its essence around my heart and refused to let me go. Written in the same spirit as Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, Timekeeper is a magnificent tale of a young boy who can’t read, or at least he hasn’t found the means to do so up to this point in his life. Misunderstood by his teachers and elders, and physically beaten into the ground by his father, Johnnyboy runs away from home at the age of fourteen and sets off into the unknown to find himself. What he couldn’t find in his own father, the universe provides for him in a multitude of miraculous ways. In spite of all his suffering and adversities, Johnnyboy’s spirit remains intact… better yet, like a boxer taking a relentless barrage of punches, he spits his beating into the ringside pail and comes out dancing like never before into the next rounds/chapters of this magnificent tale of redemption. Readers, Booksellers, Journalist, Reviewers, Critics, and even you Movie Makers, about all I can tell you is, ‘Better get ready ’cause the Timekeeper is coming to town!'” –USA Today
About the Author
John Atkinson is the author of several books, including. Timekeeper, a magnificent tale of a young man who can’t read and his quest for self-discovery and a place at the table of life. He is also the author of the mystery thriller, Dark Shadows Red Bayou.
Author: John Atkinson
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Fisher King Press (Jan 7, 2008)