Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Not a review


Five years of full time education about literature and the study thereof; you’d think it would help. I just finished reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, a book recommended to me by a friend, a teenage boy she knows, and a random stranger who walked up to me on Charles Street as I waiting for the bus. It is hard to think beyond the visceral reaction I have to the book. Maybe I am glad about that; I am not sure.

The rave reviews the book gets describe it as “A soaring celebration of the victory of love over time”. Maybe all this is too personal. Maybe that is why I can’t read Time Traveler’s Wife and believe it a victory. It is a beautiful book, well-written, no, I mean beautifully crafted. It is a good story, and insofar as it is science fiction it is unobtrusive, convincing. A victory, I dare say, in writing. But not a victory of love. It makes me anxious, this book, and sad. Not right away, but gradually. The pattern is too familiar, too realistic, the big & small disappearances, the irreparable loss. How is that a victory?

We have suffered such a loss

Maybe this is why I don’t like all too intellectual literature. One should never outsmart emotion, the power for direct impact that a book has. That this book has. It is rare that I read anything that cuts so deep without leaving me feeling violated, abused. Emotion should also not be used as a literary tool, and Time Traveler’s Wife carefully abstains. What do you want me to say about it? Read, if you want. I am sure many people read it differently than I do. Tell me about it, if you want. I am going to make lunch now – I’ve deserved a break.

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