Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors shed light on their recently released books by comparing them to weird things. This week Mark Budman writes about The Shape-Shifter’s Guide to Time Travel, his novel published by Black Rose Writing.
If The Shape-Shifter’s Guide to Time Travel were melting snow, it will come back again the very next day because it’s as stubborn as its immigrant author.
If it were the smartphone belonging to The Shape-Shifter’s Guide to Time Travel’s author, it would be so smart that it would not just get The MacArthur Genius Grant, but also share it with the owner, publisher and the publicity girl.
If The Shape-Shifter’s Guide to Time Travel were a shape-shifter1 like one of its protagonists, it would turn itself into a paperback book for everyone who bought a Kindle copy, into hardcover for everyone who bought a paperback, into author-signed copy for everyone who bought a hardcover, and into time machine for everyone who bought an author-signed copy.
If The Shape-Shifter’s Guide to Time Travel were a time traveler2 like the other protagonist, it would go back in time and take over baby Hitler’s art education so that the young Dolphy would become a successful painter loved and admired by his Jewish, Slavic, Roma, Christian, Communists and queer neighbors and fans. Likewise, the book would help baby Stalin to become the priest he had wanted to be in his youth.
If the book were a memory3 foam mattress, it would remind you, the reader, how much pleasure the book reading is giving you, every time you go to bed, get up or thinking about going to bed or getting up.
If it were either past tense, or rhyme, health, vision or score, it would perfect.
If it were the former planet Pluto, it would never give up its planetary status, arguing that once a planet is always a planet, and if you are going to give up something because some astronomer made a mistake a long time ago, you are a planetoid after all.
If it were a monkey4 on a bicycle, it would go around the world in 80 workdays and cross the oceans in a Kentucky whisky barrel equipped with solar panels, and half of the world would ape its achievement and another half would call it a hoax.
If The Shape-Shifter’s Guide to Time Travel were a car, it would be Infinity5 because that’s the ideal number of readers of such a great book.
1 A shape-shifter is someone who is either on a yo-yo diet or who can turn him- or herself into a key to enter the public library at night.
2 A time traveler is someone who is either always on time or perpetually late for the departing plane.
3 Memory is what you can lose but wouldn’t remember if you did.
4 Monkey is an animal who in its childhood used to jump on the bed with its four siblings and hit its head so badly that is now riding a bicycle.
5 Infinity is something you can’t count to, though you probably tried in elementary school.
Mark Budman is a first-generation immigrant. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Witness, Five Points, Guernica/PEN, American Scholar, Huffington Post, Mississippi Review, Virginia Quarterly, and elsewhere. He is the publisher of the flash fiction magazine Vestal Review. His novel My Life at First Try was published by Counterpoint Press to wide critical acclaim.