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When He Was Five, by Cole Parker

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I just went back and re-read this. It's just as good now as it was a few years ago.  A wise and loving parent and the sweetest kid that you can imagine impart their gifts to each other, and we readers get to watch. No villains, no drama, just a lot of warm fuzzies. I know I have said this before about some of Cole's other stories, but this one has to be his best! 

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I think so too.  Actually, this was the first story written by Cole I ever read, back in 2005 on Nifty.  I remember vividly that I read the first chapter when it appeared and thought that was the whole story and I just sat and wept.  It was only later that I caught on that it was a serial story so wrote and berated Cole for making me wait for more.  He gently suggested I look at his other three stories (!!) to pass the time, and that led me to “8th Grade”, “Prom”, and “Tim”.  By then I was hooked, and have resigned myself to waiting endlessly for new Cole Parker chapters ever since. 

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Cole, authors are often advised, "Write what you know." My first story, if I ever write it, will be about an old man who came out to himself as an adult. When He Was Five  so perfectly captures childhood—or is it an idealized childhood?—in a way that I could not begin to do. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the life of a young former neighbor, now six years old, and everything I've read in this story rings true. If you care to share, I would like to hear how you manage to capture the essence of a childhood and adolescence from which you are presumably far removed.


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I don't know how to explain that.  Parts of my childhood were like magic, and I felt loved.  That certainly helps in writing about those days.  I've also read voraciously since before I was a teen.  Seeing how others capture that time of life in books helps.  Like many who write, I live in my imagination as much as possible, probably too much; it's often preferable to the starker realities of life.  I'm also a romantic at heart, and love happy endings.  

But I'll let you in on a secret.  I can't tell you the number of times I've read that story, and every time, I tear up, too.


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I heartily second the praise.

I have recommended this story to many.  There is a spare simplicity to it; which is at the same time, very fraught, and emotionally expressive.  It's something I've never managed.  Oh, it is good.

Which is not to overlook in any way Cole's many other works, which have continued to grow richer, and more compelling, over time.  (Even if I haven't gotten around to reading them all yet!)


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