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What would you do with your last moments if the apocalypse were actually occurring, right now? Time is up in Patt Kelley’s The Abridged History of A Moon, and its nameless hero is choosing to live, to really live. There’s a girl, and a roadtrip, and quite a lot of heart in this piece about one little planet’s final hours.

The premise is powerful. Instead of going out with a dim shrug of resignation, nameless hero takes a chance and goes for the girl he has loved from afar. He hasn’t much to lose, of course, save for a less than triumphant finish. Be it the incredible frivolity of the dying or an urgent need to have lived, she goes for it! They hit the road, headed for the coast, a last romp with life. They share experiences, creating would-be memories, and even fall in love a little.

Simple and succinct, but no less poignant, Kelley’s success rests on a foundation of hope. His pages are populated with an evolved people whose collective reaction to inevitable demise is not hysterical, but gentle. The couple stop for supplies, only to find an unattended shop and a sign that reads “take what you need. good luck and god bless.”

Kelley’s art work, his quick and carefree lines, and loose, subdued coloring alleviate the heaviness of what is inevitably impending. Little nuggets of humor help, too.

Still, seeing dignity and grace trump fear, one cannot help but wish for this world’s salvation, and wonder what could have been if this perspective check had come earlier, or in less dire circumstances. Free from expectation and uncertainty, the big, looming elephant aside, Kelley’s characters are free to revel in life and admire their planet. Remarkably, there is no finger wagging on Kelley’s part, and no mention of whether this apocalypse is man-made. He has faith that his readers already understand Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, and that he can get to his own point.

In life, there will be plenty of tragedy. But, here, for this little moment, via this little book, let’s celebrate what is good.

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