What would you be willing to do to save someone, perhaps someone you loved? On a moment's tice, for instance, would you lunge between that person and an assailant's knife strike? In that same situation, what would you be willing do for yourself? And what if there were thing, ultimately, to be done? These and other such questions live in the untouched minutes-questions most of us are, fortunately, never compelled to answer, though the media exposes us daily to the stories of those who are. In February 2001, on what started out as a typical Sunday afteron, Donald Morrill and his wife Lisa Birnbaum became the victims of a home invasion and found themselves faced with the specter of ultimate contingency. In The Untouched Minutes, Morrill recounts and examines the events of that day and its aftermath as well as the circumstances surrounding the murders of Dartmouth professors Half and Suzanne Zantop, which occurred the same week. Set against the unfolding drama of post-9/11 America, The Untouched Minutes explores how violence and the threat of violence color and recast one's assumptions and can plot the course of people facing the unkwn, the unkwable, the irredeemable. Morrill presents a memorable portrait of what it means to take back the life that, finally, wasn't taken, and in the process he offers a powerful meditation on terror and security, home and travel, art, race, luck, and our individual places in the wider world.
Donald Morrill is a professor of English at the University of Tampa and poetry editor of The Tampa Review. He is the author of two previous books of nonfiction, most recently Sounding for Cool, and a book of poetry, At the Bottom of the Sky.