Richard Bach - Out of My Mind
Review of the short story "Out of My Mind" by Richard Bach
In this short story, the unnamed narrator (the author himself?) starts out with a couple of problems - design flaws on his small and rather antique airplane, while not critical, continue to dim the enjoyment of his flight sessions. One day he goes to sleep, exhausted after having spent hours at his computer trying to construct a better lock for the plane’s window without succeeding. On awakening the next morning a solution has suddenly appeared in his mind, he jots it down and it works perfectly.
Another problem presents itself and this time, the solution comes to him just as sudden, but in bright daylight - and it doesn’t come alone. At the time he visualizes the new construction in his mind, he also receives a minute glimpse of an unknown woman, who appears to see him and looks just as surprised as the narrator himself. He gets the impression that this woman sent him the idea from another time and place, and his mission changes from improving his aircraft to finding and talking to the woman he “saw”. By using relaxation techniques and his imagination he manages to visit a parallel universe in his mind, where he actually discovers the woman and the aircraft company she works for. He only talks to her for a few minutes, but is being shown the company hangars of her employer for about an hour by a manager.
This is my first novel by Richard Bach and a very short one too, but hopefully not the last. I like the pace of his telling the story, it enabled me to visualize the events better than in most other fiction I have read. While it could be classified as new-agey or fantastic I would prefer to view it as a philosophical story; the reality (or imagination) of the narrators experiences doesn’t really matter to the story’s intention. I don’t know whether Richard Bach intended for the unnamed narrator to resemble him, but I would imagine it simply from reading the passionate descriptions of the antique aircrafts he discovers through the rest of the story. His excitement over having found this other-dimensional place, where everybody loves antique planes just like he does, shines through every single word and manages to capture me too - even though I don’t consider myself interested in the actual topic.
I don’t agree with other reviewers who claim the story is stretched, and found its length to be just right for the situations it covers, but then again I generally prefer to read about narrators’ thoughts in stories in order to feel like really knowing what makes them tick. This is certainly not your kind of book if you are looking for suspense and action ;-) I don’t agree with other reviews claiming the story is too short or ends to abruptly either - it is true that it leaves a lot of questions open, but I consider that to be part of a writer’s freedom. Some books leave you with more questions than answers and make you feel bad about not knowing more, but this one just left me with a positive feeling and a smile inside.