Thursday, December 22, 2005

Time Travel

For some reason, when I first heard of The Time Traveler's Wife, I didn't want to read it. I wouldn't even pick it up in the bookstore. For some reason, I was having vague images of some bad movie I saw. I think Charlize Theron was in it. I'm not sure why these images were attaching themselves to Niffenegger's book, but that's what was going on.

After a while, I was a little curious (there has been a lot of hype, and a movie will be made next year based on the novel) so I read the back cover blurbs. Then I began my usual circling for months and months and months. I found the copies published in the UK and read the Brit blurbs. Finally, on December 11, I celebrated my second consecutive "bookstore birthday" by adding The Time Traveler's Wife to the pile of books I would take home that day.

(I finally finished that Patrick White biography. I read that book for so long, I felt as if I was living his life right along with him in real time. By the time he died in 1989, at the end of the biography, I felt as if I, too, were seventy-something years old! I am eager to get some Patrick White novels and start reading them. I hope to read Voss or The Tree of Man or A Fringe of Leaves sometime in 2006.)

Anyway...I began reading The Time Traveler's Wife. At first, I had a slight headache at the shifts in viewpoint, and trying to track the times Henry and Clare meet and who knew who when, but then I realized that the author was just doing her job, making the reader feel their disorientation.

I'm halfway through the book now, and enjoying it except for a couple of minor gripes: Niffenegger describes a whole game of billards. This never works for me. Even when Don Robertson, who I revere, described an entire Cleveland Indians game in The Sum and Total of Now, I didn't care for it much. Also, there's a scene in which Clare and her sister are talking while watching It's A Wonderful Life, and Niffenegger continually references what's going on frame by frame. Yes, Audrey, I saw the movie, and I know you saw it, too. One or two references bookending the scene would've been okay, but the rest just seemed like so much filler.

These are just piddling complaints. I enjoy the inventive way the story is told, and continue to be intrigued with Henry's struggles as a man out of time, and the things he must do to survive the abrupt shifts that ambush him with hardly any warning.

Even though Henry's travels through time are usually sickening and often dangerous, I'm still inspired to dream about what I would do if I had Chrono-Displacement Disorder. I fantasize that I might land in the late 1920s, in a bookshop. I'd pick up a couple of freshly printed, spanking-new first editions of The Great Gatsby. I'd bring them to the present and sell one of them, and give the other to Manfred, Jr. to do as he liked. Then I'd pop up to 1936 and buy a nice copy of Gone With The Wind.


"Ms. Cornelius" said...

You were thinking about The Astronaut's Wife, a spectacularly cheesy movie of a few years' back with Chalize and Johnny Depp, I am thinking.

It is Christmas break, and that means I get to read! Yay!

Anji said...

I remember hearing a review of 'The Time Traveler's Wife'on the BBC, I forgot all about it, thanks for the reminder. It would be great to collect books through time.

Anonymous said...

screw getting a first edition of Gatsby! Where's my copy of Election? You still owe me that!