A Luke of All Ages and Fire and Ice: Two Novellas
Adelaide Books LLC (2020)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (2/2021)
“A LUKE of ALL AGES and FIRE and ICE: Two Novellas,” by Mark Saba, is an intriguing work of literary fiction. Comprised of two novellas in one book, each in its own way explores themes of love, faith, beliefs, memory, human behavior, the mystery of life, and more. Main characters grew up differently, influenced and molded by differing belief systems and experiences, especially when it came to religion. In “A Luke of All Ages” readers get a good look at the protagonist’s childhood and what his thought processes are, and how he wonders if others feel and experience life the way he does. With “Fire and Ice” characters with different religions intersect with each other, exchange ideas, and are exposed to ideas they’re unaccustomed to. This is set against the backdrop of dramatic weather events, which also challenges them in unexpected ways.
Right away the reader will recognize the literary quality of Saba’s writing. His style is poetic, with rhythmic phrasing, and emotional imagery that connects readers to the material and themes. The way he describes the child’s thought patterns is so clear that, even if you haven’t had the same experiences, you can still relate to the character having those thoughts and experiences.
This author knows how to get deep into the psyches of his characters, leading you into their lives, desires, memories, wants, and needs. I like that the writing is balanced with straightforward narrative, and the lyrical. Saba is immensely skilled at building character and plot and crafting memorable interactions. These novellas are deep dives into slices of life, closely examined, but it a way that makes you feel as if you know the characters personally, or perhaps even thought some of the same things.
I like how the author handles the passage of time, the introspection and retrospection, and the mysterious quality threaded throughout. Some passages read like free-verse poetry. Besides questions of faith, the work pulses with love and other emotions, and is well-paced. As you read, you may begin to feel as if you’re learning something new about life or are being reminded of it.
A lot of works labeled “literary fiction” don’t come close, but “A LUKE of ALL AGES and FIRE and ICE: Two Novellas” by Mark Saba, does.