The Ferryman book cover

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This short tale about a man’s desire to live a different kind of life unfolds during a single day. At the crack of dawn the ferryman opens his eyes to find an impatient businessman nudging him with his foot. The businessman demands they cross the river. Immediately. Right this second. Not a minute to spare.

The ferryman rises and offers tea and scones. The businessman says he has no time for tea and scones. He needs to reach the other side. Progress and profits depend on it.

The ferryman understands. Before becoming a simple ferryman he had been a striver bristling with ambition, always angling to close the next deal. He had manipulated and deceived to accomplish his aims. He had believed material wealth the only true measure of success.

But he cannot just yet haul the businessman across the river. He must wait for the old woman. The old woman is sick and needs to see the doctor on the other side.

The Ferryman is an amusing and tender tale that attempts to shine a wide light on what might actually matter in life. Yes, we have our necessities: food and shelter, security and transportation. But what beyond these basics truly has relevance?

The ferryman, who has been a humble ferryman for several years by the time we meet him, has identified eight (8) crossings that have changed his life, he thinks, for the better. By better the ferryman means richer, deeper, less stressful, more joyful. The crossings have civilized the ferryman.

Benevolence in all things, the ferryman has come to believe, is the surest way to peace of mind. And really what greater gift can we bestow upon ourselves than a quiet and contented mind?

Come ride the ferry with the ferryman. It’s a pleasant, scenic journey filled with small gifts, interesting characters, and boundless miracles.

The Ferryman is a tale of self discovery you will read over and over as your own journey passes back and forth across the river of life.

Thomas William Simpson is the author of such diverse novels as This Way Madness Lies, Full Moon Over America, and Fingerprints of Armless Mike.

His curiosity for the human condition, as evidenced in The Ferryman, knows no bounds.

Author’s View

Thomas William Simpson headshot

I have been whittling away at The Ferryman for years. The ferryman changes as I change. His story, which once ran to nearly one hundred thousand words, has been pared down to less than twenty thousand.

I have written several big, bold, expansive novels. Once I envisioned The Ferryman as one of these epics. But over time his tale has been pruned to its essence.

The idea now is to read the story in a sitting or two, then go back from time to time to reread those passages you found inspiring or enlightening or simply entertaining.

There is a side of me that identifies with the ferryman. Like the ferryman I constantly seek the meaning of my actions and motivations. I have always been both a participant and an eyewitness to my life. What’s the point of living, after all, if we’re not aware of what drives us and what gives us joy?

The Ferryman examines weighty concerns like patience and compassion, friendship and family, but it does so in a light-hearted and amusing manner. It has occurred to me as I’ve gotten older and less driven by ego that a sense of humor, especially of the self-deprecating variety, might be the most precious gift we can give ourselves, and perhaps more importantly, those who have to deal with us daily.