Clarity In Time Book Review: The Dan O'Brien Project

Guest Post: Margaret Hepworth’s “Clarity in Time”

Monday, January 14, 2013 6:34

Nelson Mandela sits in full-fledged discussion in a barren prison cell - Robben Island 1972. His counterpart, the still youthful Dirk Kortella, his Afrikaner jailer, a product of his system. Mandela speaks of meaning through language, love, humanity and Almost Impossible Thoughts. Kortella listens.

Yet this fictional novel, Clarity in Time, isn’t Mandela’s story. Rather it is the story of the ‘interested bystander’ - those among us who read the newspapers over breakfast, stamp our feet at the evening news in the comfort of our lounge-rooms, share these same concerned discussions with our friends and loved ones over our dining room tables, yet don’t know how to move our thoughts into action – beyond the confines of our own four walls.

Enter Rosie O’Dea, 2010, clean and fresh…yet always one thread hanging. Clearly an ‘interested by-stander’ in her own right. Rosie is a modern day hunter-gatherer. With emerging psychic abilities, she is a hunter of eclectic objects from her worldly travels, and a gatherer of knowledge, ideas and cultural constructs. Her own personal journey is often confused yet clear, troubled yet calm, detrimental yet positive. Sound familiar? We are all pushed and pulled by the polar opposites that frequent our bodies and minds. Rosie stands before us, ready to take on the world…until she has an epiphany that serves to simultaneously both free and bind her.

The novel, in its entirety, takes place in one moment in time, the milliseconds that it takes for a person’s life to flash before their eyes. We are taken back over the last seven years, Rosie’s formative adult years, then further back, to her childhood. And as we weave our way through her story, we travel through time again. Thirty thousand years ago an Aboriginal elder on the shores of Lake Mungo reveals secrets of the universe to a six year old girl; 1941, Albert Einstein musing over his scientific findings, laughs mischievously at his own double entendre - his biggest secret; a surgeon reveals his internal conflict; and Moses climbs a mountain to discover a scene well beyond the realms of Biblical capacity.

We travel through time, beyond time and in time. And at each stage we pause and find moments of clarity.

How did I come by these stories, these big picture ideas and philosophical concepts? I have been teaching English and History for over twenty-five years. I have shared the life and vitality of people such as Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Steve Biko, and all manner of characters from film and literature with thousands of engaged and enthused students and I have never grown tired of seeing them learn – and learning from them. It came time to share stories beyond the classroom to a wider audience; an audience who, it seemed to me, was now more than ever willing to listen to words of wisdom, change and action.

You can imagine how thrilled I was when I was granted permission by the Nelson Mandela Foundation of South Africa to use Mandela as a fictional character. Subsequently the permissions came rolling in: from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to use controversial Captain Paul Watson in a cameo vignette, the de Bono Institute of Australia to reference the theories of creative thinker, Edward de Bono and even from the makers of Four Weddings and a Funeral for the use of one infamous line from that film.

In finally sitting down to write, I gave myself time to listen. And I discovered something which felt strange; I could write about things that I had never actually spoken about.

Sometimes life is a slow reveal; and sometimes we experience startling moments of clarity.

(I love to hear from and create dialogue with my readers. Please write.)

Here is what two readers have said about Clarity in Time:

The entire premise I felt was excellent, and the execution top-notch. Taken clearly as a work of the heart, the care and craftsmanship put into the piece are palpable. (Hepworth has) written a truly beautiful story that demands to be shared and passed on…On a personal level this was a very exciting work to encounter. My particular tastes tend towards the philosophical, spiritual, exploratory and experimental. So while I did, on the whole, enjoy the platform storyline, to me the greatest appeal was found in the more abstract and hypothetical elements – the psychic and spiritual life events, and the speculative historical scenarios. These actually managed to wring some tears from me at times. Examples that come readily to mind are the dinner invitation, and the chapter entitled something along the lines of “The Propounders of the Peace."


I have tons to do right now, but started your book, thinking I would just have a quick look for the minute, then a bit longer, then more. I found it hard to put down; your descriptions of real everyday life experiences are so 'now' as I sense living them, your settings, ditto. I am positively impressed.

Dan O'Brien Editor, Empirical Author: of The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, Cerulean Dreams, and The Journey Follow me on: Twitter Follow me on my blog: Thoughts from the Dan O'Brien Project "Be the change you want to see in this world." -Mahatma Ghandi Want more information about Empirical? Check out our website: . Do you have work that you'd like to submit to Empirical? First, go to our website, and then click on the submissions tab at the top of the page. Our requirements and directions are there. If you have further questions, please feel free to ask.

2013-01-14 01:53:35