17.8.07

Time Traveler's Wife

Submitted both my assignments this morning and I'm taking this huge break I deserve,partly to tell you about this book I recently read.An international bestseller with an intriguing idea for a plot,it was the book's inclusion in Pajiba's list of 15 Generation-Defining Books that got me really interested.Prior to The Time Traveler's Wife,I had impulsively purchased Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections (also listed there) to see how well this list and I go together.Also listed were two books I had read prior to discovering that list,The Lovely Bones & Everything Is Illuminated,two books which I thought were enjoyable.The three aforementioned books were terrific reads,which is why I find the inclusion of The Time Traveler's Wife in the same list somewhat odd and contradicting.Okay,here's the gist of it-it's the story of Henry DeTamble who suffers from a rare genetic disease which causes him to time travel involuntarily (and this is explained very unconvincingly,but it's not a sci-fi novel so I'll let that pass)-so there are different versions of himself,of different ages,constantly travelling in and out of different years.On one occasion early in the story an adult version of himself stumbles upon Clare Abshire,who at that time is only a child-and eventually they meet more often,and form a relationship that becomes takes the book's centre stage.Clare doesn't time travel,only Henry does,so althroughout her life she meets different versions of Henry-and being a woman with dreams for herself,she accepts the nature of their relationship,that Henry is constantly disappearing at the most inopportune times,leaving her lonely and needy,but she desires a typical life with babies and all that.Now that we've got the story out of the way,let's get to the book.I have so many complaints about it I don't really know where to start.Firstly,the story mostly glides over a couple of different events (how Clare loses her virginity,how Henry often finds himself in awkward situations) but establishes no real emotional core or engages in any real emotion-it claims to be a romance but there's nothing remotely genuine or believable about the main relationship,the conflicts,subplots and events feel superficial and relies too heavily on coincidence,overall it's awfully detached,cold and just fucking unsatisfying to go through.And as if the lack of real emotion wasn't jarringly painful enough,the writing style is exceedingly frustrating-countless times the characters (the main culprits would of course be Henry and Clair,but their friends Gomez & Charrise not excluded) try to sound all smart and witty-churning one agonizingly pretentious,unfunny comment/joke after another,the "humour" was so unendurable that at times I just felt like digging a hole and burying the book.Plus it doesn't help that at times the characters talk in a way that no real person would-it's all just so fucking ridiculous,and the dialogues so deplorable and dumb the long moments when the characters didn't talk were times of relief for me (although those were torture instruments by themselves,but not nearly as lethal as the dialogues-like there are a couple of dream sequences which are supposed to be metaphorical or representative or whatever,but it's as if they were written by a 5 year old on weed and totally clash with the entire book,steering here and there,into fantasy,then realism,then some bullshit doctor story,bla bla bla until it's practically everywhere-argh,so bloody unfocused!).And even when the book ends,Henry and Claire both remain paper-thin and completely one-dimensional,despite the large amount of time investing in them-the characters never take the shape of any genuine character,there's nothing real,relatable,pitiable,or interesting about them.The author chooses to stick to character types,and does little to give them individual personalities-like how Claire's this lonely wife,and Henry's this poor guy who can't control anything.That's pretty much how they are,flimsy and dull.The other characters don't get much either-Gomez is a smart-ass with a secret,Charisse mostly hovers in the background (her presence holds hardly any significance),then there's the Korean maid with bad grammar and loves to cook,and who's also very motherly and shit.Henry's father is one tormented by his wife's passing,he's also an alcoholic and unloving towards most.See what I mean?They're these basic ideas for characters,put into a book and hardly re-imagined or developed,only created for the sake of them being there-as characters they're absolutely worthless and disposable,mere pawns to start and end a lousy shitpiece of a story.And it's not that I don't enjoy the genre-I've enjoyed most of the Danielle Steel books I've read,and I pretty much read everything from Grisham to Lemony Snicket to autobiographies and so on,because I believe quality's never confined to any single genre or category.Thing is,when I start a book,I have to finish it no matter how bad it is (except with one book years ago,which I just couldn't bring myself to finish)-because I hate to judge a book before finishing it,and many books which start off badly manage to pick up the slack at some point and/or have redeeming qualities (i.e.:interesting plot turns,good humour),but Time Traveler's Wife was pure agony right to the last word.

+IMDB's got some juice on the film adaptation,starring the hopelessly lethargic and uncharsimatic Eric Bana as Henry,and the wonderful Rachel McAdams as Claire (which makes sense,sort of,cos' the screeplay's being written by the guy who adapted The Notebook),and apparently Jen Aniston & Brad Pitt (presumably back when they were still going) bought rights to the film rights to the novel even before it was released (under trivia at IMDB).McAdams would be perfect for the role,but I was hoping for Claire Danes,or maybe Chloe Sevigny or Nicole Kidman if they chose to focus on the later parts of the book when the character was older.As for Henry,I think James McAvoy would fit the role well.Well,film adaptations are usually disappointing,but anything that isn't the book itself would be an improvement.

18 comments:

eerie said...

yeah i've heard SO much hype over the time traveler's wife. i've yet to read it tho to see whether what everyone's been saying is true

and i've only read the lovely bones. i'm gonna borrow a few (off that list) from the ERC before it gets closed down!

Al said...

my opinion's just one person's opinion,i'm interested to see what others think about it.

argh melb uni playing evil puppetmaster again.

soraya barakbah said...

yah ive read it. its badass. haha. sorry, my brain is numb. i wont do the book justice by trying to explain how i felt about it anyways. so for now, badass should suffice.

Al said...

badass effectively conveys what you're trying to say.you law students,so damn smart smtimes (yes,irina,this is meant for you too)..brain gone numb?hope drugs isn't involved-the aus government has this disturbing ad playing on tv titled 'lost dreams',where short vid clips of either dead or crying or shouting or smtg liddat teenagers are played to the voice clips of children enthusiastically saying what they want to be when they grow up.i can't get that ad out of my head.

but i'm sure it's not.prob loud music.pleasure,pain,who cares.

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