What would you do if you only had twenty-four hours to live? Kill yourself? Kill other people? Perform acts
of great heroism? Perform acts of utter selfishness?
Despite the apparent triteness of the question, Eric Shapiro’s take on it results, to use old-fashioned
parlance, in a smashing read. His hero, Sean, harbours not the faintest hope of survival when the earth’s population
is threatened with extinction. In the hours remaining to him, he chooses to visit his ex-girlfriend, Selma. His journey to
find her is tortuous and full of detours, some of them thrilling, some bloody, and some very moving. It is a voyage of self-discovery,
and if this once again makes it sound trite, it isn’t.
Right down to the cover art, this is a book any major publisher could and should have been proud to produce.
If some of the episodes are unlikely (my particular bugbear was that, at a moment of such urgency, Sean should have chosen
to spend time with the Meditation Circle – but I suppose we cannot be certain what a person might feel moved to do with
death staring him in the face), then that is no more than par for the course with the kind of fiction major publishers do
The only disappointment is that It’s Only Temporary is much too short. I’d have been happier
if it was half as long again (and this review would have been correspondingly longer). Without giving away the ending, and
even bearing in mind that the story, by its very nature, demands brevity, the narrative is compelling enough to hold the reader’s
attention for at least another fifty pages.
If I gave ratings to the books I review, this one would romp home with five stars.