When a stranger shoots his dad on a Costa Rican pier, Peter Counter hauls his blood-drenched father to safety. Returning home, Counter discovers that his sense of time and memory is shattered, and in its place is a budding new mental illness: post-traumatic stress disorder.
Counter begins to see violence everywhere. From the music of Cat Stevens to Jeb Bush’s Twitter feed. Walter Benjamin to Johnny Carson. Taskmaster. Video games. ASMR videos on YouTube. The world is steeped in gore. Again and again, Counter finds himself reliving his father’s shooting as his trauma is fragmented, recast, and distorted on a compulsive mental Tilt-A-Whirl.
Formally inventive and incisively smart, How to Restore a Timeline revels in a fragile human condition battered by real conflict and hyper-curated media portrayals of death. Channelling Phoebe Bridgers, George Orwell, and Jordan Peele, these essays look us dead in the eye and ask: What kind of life can we piece together amid all the carnage?
About the author
A deeply vulnerable book, How to Restore a Timeline encourages readers to reflect on their own pain.
Literary Review of Canada
An exquisitely exact mesh of author, expertise, and subject colours How to Restore a Timeline … Infused with the intersection between Counter’s life and interests, the essays produce new ways of looking, and new ripples in the timeline.
Canadian Notes and Queries
Counter is a gifted writer, with a keen eye and what seems to be a ravenous mind. The book is dizzying and thought-provoking, clearly thought and deeply felt.
Counter articulates how trauma not only radically alters the present but deforms the past and creates the future anew … Many pieces are treasures animated by a keen critical eye and welcome sense of humour … Counter does not offer nor encourage escape. Instead, he articulates ways of re-reading these moments of trauma, of understanding them in ways that offer, if not absence, then perhaps amelioration.
Winnipeg Free Press