Mark Guerin's YOU CAN SEE MORE FROM UP HERE Reviewed by Dr. Holly Fling
As Mark Guerin shows in YOU CAN SEE MORE FROM UP HERE (Golden Antelope Press, 2019), our past—the secrets we keep, the lies we tell, the hurtful words that escape our mouths during moments of anger, and our social behavior—has the power to haunt us in the present, even when the present takes place decades later. This effect can especially affect our relationships with family and friends. Indeed, Guerin seamlessly weaves past (most of which takes place during the summer of 1974) and present (2004) into a moving narrative about one man’s perceptions of his relationships with his family, best friend, co-workers, and the girl he loved and lost.
Walker Maguire, an experienced journalist in 2004, recreates one week from the past on his laptop while he sits by his dying father’s hospital bed. As he writes about his first week working a summer job at an automotive plant in Belford, Illinois, he begins to perceive the past in a different light. Physically moving about the hospital—to the maternity ward, where he bumps into a woman from his past, and to the emergency room, where a critical encounter had occurred thirty years before—and talking with his sister and his best friend, who are now married as a result of the relationship they formed that same summer, helps Walker to understand that he was only one of many actors during that week. Though the effects of his actions continue to reverberate through time, so do the other characters’ past actions. Walker finally begins to heal with his awareness of these other actions that took place outside of his knowledge and control.
Of course, Walker is not the only character whose control tactics go awry. His father, in pushing him into a blue-collar summer job, is confident that the experience will encourage Walker to work harder in his college science courses. He is confounded, then, when Walker not only fails to perceive himself as above his co-workers but also comes to care deeply about one of these co-worker’s struggle to support a family.
A good read about coming to terms with the past, YOU CAN SEE MORE FROM UP HERE is an exploration of how the past is always present in the present. I was able to relate to the characters and the situations in this novel, because it is not only a narrative of an individual’s experiences. It is a collective story—a story about community, family, and love. It is a story about all of us.