Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Hello Clare....



I am not sure if I could have picked a better book to bring me out of the negative funk that "American Psycho" put me in. Ellis covers his pages with empty souls and ironic filth - Niffenegger layers on the lovely intimate moments of two lovers. When I first jumped into the book, I tried keeping my mind from identifying with the characters - I wanted to read the metaphor - look past romance and see what exactly this author was trying to release through her words. Then - I started falling for both of these people - watching their worlds spin and twist with the difficulties of containing their passionate love.

I am not a reader of romance novels - so perhaps I just read my first, and I now call be called a major wus - but I really enjoyed this book. The structure is really engaging - allowing the reader to easily follow both characters and hear their inner thoughts - whilst surviving the time traveling debacles. The characters, Henry and Clare, are really close in age to myself. Thus their college days - their musical tastes... all sorts of qualities were easy to connect with. Finally, the book does a helluva job in keeping the love and desire real - never cheapening emotions or hiding from reality.



The book makes mention of "Possession." A book I have never read and a film I have not partaken of. I get the feeling that the author has somewhat dug into the feel and story of that book - and used it as a backbone to her structuring of this book. I might pick up the movie sometime.



I am not sure if I can fully explain why... but I kept seeing the final image from Scorsese's AGE OF INNOCENCE whenever the book spoke of the longing and desire of Henry and Clare. Though the characters choices and lives don't reflect anything in that movie... it is the crushing sadness and insane craving for each other... for the embrace... for the time that will be lost or never had... that emotion that the final image from the film evokes in me - really came out!

I am really glad that I was turned on to this book and I would recommend it to anyone. My heart even woke up... and thudded a few times at the close of the book. Maybe a little misstep in the end... but the impact is there regardless... and suddenly, I am dreaming of holding up in a loft apartment with my girl... dancing to some Sam Cooke classics... hiding from the world... waiting to watch it all disappear.

Yo

38 comments:

Kern said...

Sounds cool. I'll have to give it a look sometime in the near future.

What's next on your reading list? I'm re-reading Rule of The Bone by Russell Banks. It's a great book, and I feel like it's one I wanted to re-read as it's narrated by a sixteen year old, which is the approximate age of the main character of one of my upcoming short stories. After writing the last one as a hybrid of first/third person, I'm kind of scared to go back to strictly first person. It's a lot of weight to hang on knowing a character.

Damfino said...

I might dig into your Martin Amis book.

Did you send on a Banks book as well?

Kern said...

I think Trailerpark maybe. It's a collection of short stories. I liked it quite a bit, but not quite as much as some of his other works.

Amis' Time's Arrow blew my mind though. And it's short. Remember, whatever you do, DO NOT READ THE BACK COVER. It's better to be surprised.

Damfino said...

Aight! Where is Deric - he had some great comments yesterday... I need to re-read those.

Kern said...

Yes, where is Mr. Deit? I would like to ask him if he is also a reader of Mr. Amis.

Deit Heimley said...

I think possession and The Time Traveler's Wife have very little in common other than the obvious love story, with a twist. Read it.

I now must whole-heartedly recommend The Lovely Bones. The Time Traveler's Wife made me think of this wonderful book for reasons that are hard to put into words. The Lovely Bones is not a love story (a young girl is brutally murdered and dismembered in the first chapter), yet it is a story about dealing and living on in the face of an impossible situation. I mean life goes on, people love, people hurt, and some people find the daily act of living almost impossible.

But not since The Lovely Bones had I been more into a set of characters until I read The Time Traveler's Wife.

I assume that Jed has not yet finished the book (it goes on until the characters are in their 40s and he's still in the college years), and because there are other here who will read I will not delve too much into details. That being said, I don't often get misty eyed over a book. A love story is really not my thing either. Yet the final chapter is about a greater love than romance, and the build up to that point is so perfect that I totally bought the moment. What's better, I didn't feel manipulated at the end. I teared up at the last chapter almost on cue, and loved it.

The time traveling thing is treated as one would treat a story about someone who has cancer. When told in the first chapter that one of the main character's has cancer you immediately know that this character will die by page 300. In this book the plot is spelled out because of the circular nature of the story. Yet, the author is not bound to make the plot the center of the story as so many would have done with a time traveler. Rather the plot is secondary to the characters. The book contains it's share of plot manipulation, though in a time traveling book it seems almost expected, but it always stays true to the characters and their reactions to the result of all of this time travel.

Continue reading.

Kern said...

Deit: Do you read any Martin Amis? And if so, have you read Time's Arrow?

Deit Heimley said...

No. I have not read Amis. I must admit I have a slight prejudice against time travel. The plots usually are full of utter manipulation and the book serves to shock or surprise the reader rather than engage the reader in this world of characters.

I usually read books about people who don't do anything. I love character driven books over plot manipulated best sellers.

Damfino said...

I finished it last night D.

Same thing with me... tearing up on cue... but it was wonderful how everything seemed grounded in the contradicitions of reality (Gomez's final appearance)!

The very end... hmmm - threw me off. Actually, it made me really re-think Clare's life... her reason for existence... I was totally emotionally bound... then the very end... and suddenly I kind of felt this higher ideal trying to be reached.

But also - I doubt there would be any way I would buy any choices she made... tough situation for an author.

Totally agree about your time traveling reading... that was a nice way to handle that plot device.

Damfino said...

Wait - are you saying you don't think "The Da Vinci Code" is not one of the best books written in the last decade? Hell - century?!?!?

Damfino said...

And D. if Possession has nothing to do with this.. then why did the author quote the book twice?

Kern said...

You might really like the bulk of Amis' work. Also, Time's Arrow is not really time travel in the sense you're probably expecting, it's more like watching a life literally in rewind from death to birth with another conscious entity inhabiting the body of that person in rewind. The odd thing is, this consciousness doesn't realize that this is not how things really work in the human world, so it perceives this as being a normal course of linear events. Watching the person you and the consciousness think that you are devolve over the course of the novel takes a shocking turn which I won't ruin for Jed.

Also, Amis' other books are more what you were talking about. People doing essentially nothing. Amis' style is absolutely spectacular.

I highly suggest Money, which addresses greed and the eighties with a sly humour and wit without the nihilism that may have bogged down books like American Psycho.

It's fantastic.

Damfino said...

Is that what bogged down AP? I thought it might have been the rat in the girls vag that did it!

ugh

Kern said...

I take it you didn't end up liking the book?

I guess this is one of those instances where one gets excited for something, but once they see what it's about they can't believe they were excited about the prospect in the first place.

Kern said...

It's a good thing KJ's not here to read your above statement re: the rat. It's prime "Gross Jed" material.

Damfino said...

I think I enjoyed AP - finishing it was nice. I kind of wish he would have tried to cover more ground... instead of pounding the same brutal stuff again and again.

BTW - Ebert just released a review of a flick called CHAOS - no stars... kind of calling out for critics to band together and hate. The movie is about a serial killer raping and killing two girls. Apparently it ends with them dead after being tortured for 2 hours... not good.

Deit Heimley said...

Yes, I just looked up Amis. He sounds great and right up my alley. I have (or had - I've done some recent downsizing)an awesome library, but I am always looking for more. I read all over the place. I have to say, now that you desribe it, I do remember hearing about that book - or I saw it at some point. My library though has two main sections, early 20th century and gay fiction. I love the alternative writers of the early 20th century. I love the hopelessness that existed at that time, or the expression of that the world will soon end feeling that so many writers of the time had. It is funny to realize that in 1930, many people in the intelectual world thought the world was doomed and we would destroy ourselves with technology inside 50 years.

Kern, I bet you and I share only one book, and that one I borrowed from Jed and just never returned it. We could read eachother's library though with equal joy.

Jed, read Possession. Though it has nothing to do with this book in terms of plot structure, the characters are kin. I guess Possession is also circular in it's way, but they not really that comparable to me.

Kern said...

So true, so true.

Kern said...

Deit: I don't know how often you see Jed, but have him loan you my copy of Time's Arrow. I don't remember if I gave him Money or not, but if I did he should give you that one as well if you can't find any Amis at the library.

He's a real treat. Money is great, as is The Information, Time's Arrow and The Rachel Papers. I'm also starting London Fields which is going to be a Cronenberg film sometime next year. Yeah!

Deit Heimley said...

So true, so true

Thanks for the love!

Deit Heimley said...

I haven't seen Jed in a while. I even missed him at the fair (don't know how that happened)

I actually see his sister and poor Urnotme more than I see Jed. But that's what happens when we live so far apart ...

I actually am planning a trip the 1/2 price book store this week, so I will look for Amis.

Kern said...

Right on. I hope you enjoy it. He's definitely armed with one of the most extensive and obscure vocabularies I've ever seen. And a very wicked sense of humour.

ERL said...

the time travelers wife is a beautiful book. i truely enjoyed it.

Damfino said...

I am actually joining a book club this week - meet Thursday to talk about Time Traveler's... I might steal some of your comments D.

Hello Erl - what say you about the book?

Damfino said...

BTW I am deleting every spam post and blocking them.. this is ridiculous!

Deit Heimley said...

I love spam. Fried up with eggs. Cut up some onions and peppers and add to some potatoes, and you have some spam hash. I don't really eat it that much, but if prepared right spam can be quite good. But here on the computer it is quite tateless. beleive me. I've licked the screen.

Damfino said...

D - you need an image on the side... you need a good picture!

Kern said...

Indeed.

Deit: Are you any good with sartorial conundrums?

Damfino said...

Are you asking him out?

Kern said...

Don't be a wanker, Jed.

He seems like the type of guy who would dress with panache, and I was going to ask a question regarding an uncut corduroy blazer I'm thinking of buying. I talked to a friend of mine who's a designer, and I think I'm sold on it for the most part. I'll have to wait until next month's check to get the pants however.

Damfino said...

I know what you mean - I was gonna buy this t-shirt that said "rehab is for quitters" but I have to wait for my next paycheck.

Kern said...

Classy, Jed. Classy.

Damfino said...

Looks like we were all by our lonesome today... catchya in the morn Kern!

Yo

Kern said...

Right on!

Death to Spammers!

Deit Heimley said...

Sorry all. I had to actually do work instead of just be brilliant.

I do not dress with panache but more because I am too damn poor than because I can't do it.

However, Kern, I hate cordory. I just don't get it as a fabric. So if you are set on cordoroy, you cann't get my endorsement.

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