ABOUT: The Shape of Memories


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Expanded from the original novella: Through a Lens of Dark & Light

“I was assailed by memories of a life that wasn’t mine anymore, but one in which I’d found the simplest and most lasting joys: the smells of summer, the part of town I loved, a certain evening sky, her dress and the way she laughed.” —Albert Camus, The Stranger

“All photographs are ‘memento mori.’ To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” –Susan Sontag



Just as it had been when young, Robert Sterling’s life had become about loss. A once renowned photojournalist, his wife’s death and his drunken downward spiral had taken his career with it. Despite his wife’s last letter, a plea for him to move on and live his life, he had not. Then his institutionalized mother dies, leaving him her one personal possession. The camera his father, a combat photographer, had brought home from Germany at the end of World War II. With it, her letter telling him: “If your life has gone ‘wrong,’ return to where it began. Use the camera. Find yourself again, and you’ll also find answers.”

Not knowing why—but compelled—Robert follows her advice. He returns to the small town he’d left decades ago and had struggled for years to wipe from memory. Where the stigma of his alcoholic father’s fateful mistake and his mother’s increasingly bizarre behavior had ruined everything. Where he had found and lost his first love. Where—when he was 18 years old—someone had tried to kill him for what he had done.

Is what Robert sees there through his father’s camera a haunting from decades of guilt and denial of what had happened? Could he find the answers his mother promised were there? Or was he going crazy as his mother had decades ago?

First Look Readers had this to say about the story:

[This comment came in three stages] 1) “Dammit, Dennis Lowery!! Take my money already! This is good! My lunch break is over, but I don’t want to stop reading. I think this is the best work of yours I’ve read yet. 2) I can tell a good story by the imagery it creates in my head. If it’s good, as I’m reading, I’m seeing the events unfold like a movie… and that’s exactly what’s happening here. Down to background details. 3) Finished. That was excellent, and I’m extremely impressed. I was actually laughing to myself and called you an SOB for the twist at the end. Well done.” –Dan S. He further added this via social media: “Want a good read? I mean, a really good read? This is an excellent story… and if you don’t follow Dennis, I’d suggest you do. I don’t follow many authors, but I enjoy his works. Good stuff. … do it…do it now…” –Dan Syes

“A story, once read, you will never forget. I love how the whole time I kept falling from one surprise into the next and how from beginning to end, the story kept building and building. The entire time, when you think, ok – this is it, another surprise is presented. Absolutely amazing until the last paragraph. And I do have to mention this again, Dennis. The way you describe details. I can’t tell you how special that is. Details that I think no one else would ever notice. You paint a picture with your words like no one else.” –Nina A.

“This grabbed me right away. Compelling… is it a ghost story!? [rhetorical question] Loved how the writing perspective changes between present and past. You tied up the loose ends beautifully. A great read.” –Debra D

“As a reader, there is no better experience than to forget you are reading and just become immersed in the story. This book did that….” –AR

“I was plowing through a really bad book and finally gave up. I loaded this book that I had downloaded a little while back, and thank you, Dennis Lowery, for saving me from the reading blues! Excellent job! Loved the work! It was a really great read. I’m still thinking about it. And the end with the SPOILER REMOVED really hit home with the perspective of what one’s feelings, experiences, and sometimes tragedies might be to others.” –Mike M. Jensen

“I’m halfway through, Dennis. It’s wonderful. Hard to put it down. Great read!” [when she finished] “Best I’ve read in a long time. I finished it late last night and even dreamt about it. I woke this morning and it’s still with me… I cannot tell you how deeply this story affected me. I was drawn in from the very first song lyrics. I found myself singing each familiar tune along in my head, and as it always does, allowing the music to work as a time machine. In so many ways, I related to this tale. I loved how you wove now and then together through wakening and dreaming happenings. I loved the premise of light and dark, and the lens we all use to focus on what matters most to us….love, understanding, even forgiveness reaching back to heal the misunderstandings of the past.” –Bobbie T.

“In a story combining the writing style of O’ Henry with the suspense of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone, Dennis Lowery takes the reader on a fast-paced journey about love lost and love regained. With a riveting story-line, the reader is left hanging at the end of each chapter, eagerly ready to jump into the next. Very well written!!!” –Jim Zumwalt via email (James G. Zumwalt is the author of Bare Feet ~ Iron Will – Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields, The Juche Lie | North Korea’s Kim Dynasty and Doomsday Iran: The Clock is Ticking.

“I have no negative comments to give. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and read it in one sitting which is unusual for me. It kept me interested.” –Mark

“Fantastic! Oh, this made me cry happy tears and had me riveted the entire time. I knew SPOILER PART REMOVED… I didn’t want to continue but I was compelled to finish even though I knew there was sadness mixed with joy. It makes me think that I should look at moments in my life differently.” –Kira H.

“A wonderful rich story full of every detail I could imagine. I particularly enjoyed the music references and flow between past and present. Well Done.” –Fay Handstock

“So well written… the detailed descriptions taps into all the senses… nostalgia at its best. You know you’ve tapped into something great when each frame changes, moving you forward, yet gives new meaning to a previous scene or event. It’s a re-read with several stories, and even in that there are the stories that each character could tell. I’m left wanting more!” –Lena Kindo-Kamara