David Atkinson fosters nostalgia from memories of an era of our lives long since past: childhood. He sculpts using spare and honest prose a style of voice that jumps with life. These are stories that simply cannot sit still. Bones Buried in the Dirt is a collection of 19 themed tales; every story is its own buried treasure of sorts linked together by Peter, our eye into the past. Peter is perhaps every child at an age where conflict and sorrow shows through only in the smallest of details, the details we cannot fathom until long after the fact. Decades later:
Rejection during playtime
Parents playing favoritism
Competitive sports and the conflicts that ensue
Friends made and friends desired
Grade school ennui
David S. Atkinson has carefully carved out a vivid line through childhood with a voice that is pitch perfect, the authentic inner child calling out, crying and cheering about times past. Simpler times they weren’t.
“Last time I kept losing and it made me mad. This time it’ll be different though. I’d be it all the time.”
I am baffled by what Atkinson has achieved with these stories. Most authors, upon treading into uncharted territory, will write from a 3rd person perspective. Not David. He has not only attempted to capture a voice befitting of the age but also managed to make it entirely his own. His sentences are pure and candid. And yet, I keep returning to the title and what David is trying to tell us. Perhaps he is telling us about how we treat our memories; perhaps he is showing us how we are quick to devalue memory. Ultimately, I ask myself the question, what do we bury in the dirt, the clutter of our adult lives but the memories of childhood? Atkinson’s stories showcase how the burial is of time’s passing, age bringing us further apart from what used to fuel our days: playtime, skipping school, and other precious moments crystalized in our own respective childhoods.