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Friday, November 21, 2008

Time's Arrow by Martin Amis

Title: Time's Arrow

Author: Martin Amis

First Published: 1991

No. of Pages: 176

Synopsis (from B&N): "Doctor Tod T. Friendly dies and then feels markedly better, breaks up with his lovers as a prelude to seducing them, and mangles his patients before he sends them home. And all the while Tod's life races backward toward the one appalling moment in modern history when such reversals make sense."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction

Comments and Critique: This book is a real mindbender. I had not read the synopsis or anything on the dust jacket before starting, so I was completely lost for the first 50 pages or so. But once I figured out that time was going in reverse, it got a bit easier. The concept is technically ambitious and many writers would have made a mess of it. But Amis makes it work. He does so consistently and in such a manner that what could have been just a gimmick is instead a stroke of genius. The concept is also well-suited to the theme of the novel, in which we are reminded that the past is never really left behind.

Other online reviewers have commented that this book caused them to have to stop and think of which way that time was going in reality, and I also experienced this. The book takes such a hold of you that you have to stop yourself from doing things in reverse (which, incidentally, will get you some pretty funny looks when you start doing it in public before you catch yourself).

Would You Recommend This Book to Others: Yes.

Challenges: Booker Challenge; Complete Booker

3 comments:

Joanne said...

Oooo very nice review, I'm going to check this out for sure. I love books that are told in non-conventional ways.

Dreamybee said...

Have you read Slaughterhouse Five? There is a similar scene in there where the bombing of Dresden is seen in reverse, and I found it heartbreaking. You're right, the time-in-reverse concept could be a real mess, but used correctly it is very poignant.

Tammy said...

Joanne -- non-convention is definitely the word, hope you like it!

Dreamybee -- yes, I read it earlier this year. I was actually somewhat disappointed, I didn't like it as much as I expected from others' reviews, maybe I'll reread it in a few years and see if my opinion changes.