Bender by Alexander Rigby

“One of the only assurances we have in this life is the past that is already gone” (295).  Alexander Rigby begins his third novel well in the past, in ancient Egypt, on a ship carrying a princess who lays eyes on a beautiful slave she has to know, regardless of their difference in class.  And with that pair, Rigby introduces a series of other affairs, all assured to fail, due to societal norms or competing mates or unstoppable missions.  But, the more doomed they are, the more we’re hooked on finding out how.  It’s a formula for suspense and drama across the ages.  In each story, the “R characters,” Rashida, in ancient Egypt, Renzen in Renaissance Florence, Reed in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, and Riley in Argentina in 2241, narrate in the first person their attraction to “C characters,” Chathis, Ciro, Claire, and Catherine.  Rigby captures the mood of each era through these characters’ jobs, dress, concerns and surroundings, as well as in their manner of speech.  What binds them all is love, that feeling that is both individual and universal, timeless and constrained by time.  But is love their only connection?  Rigby raises the question of repeated lives….  He sets us readers outside of time looking in, watching love’s initial flowering, its climax and its downfall, along the way enjoying characters’ take on art, culture and the soul.  Outside of time, reading, we are also in the now, that links past and future, that we don’t want to end.  “The present we are undertaking, its existence ever so fleeting, is the only other thing we will ever truly know” (295).  Brilliant conceit executed with finesse.  A time-travel classic.     author site  


Author: marilivtollefson

I teach and play violin when not reading and reviewing books. Thanks to indie authors for opening my world and sharing theirs! Find my reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, Midwest Book Review and BookPage, among others.

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