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Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveller's Wife

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Mar. 30th, 2009 | 08:35 pm

Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveller's Wife

What a well-constructed, well-executed, vapid, and self-congratulatory book this is! Street directions lifted from Google Maps stand in for the evocation of place, compulsive lists - authors, bands, sushi - stand in for characterization. American Psycho does this, but it is a sign of Patrick Bateman's sickness. Here is one particular offence:
"I peruse Henry's bookshelves. Here is the Henry I know. Donne's Elegies and Songs and Sonnets. Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. Immanuel Kant. Barthes, Foucault, Derrida. Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience. Winnie the Pooh. The Annotated Alice. Heidegger. Rilke. Tristram Shandy. Wisconsin Death Trip. Aristotle. Bishop Berkeley. Andrew Marvell. Hypothermia, Frostbite, and Other Cold Injuries."

But tell me - are the spines bent? Unbent? Are they all in the same edition? Are they shelved with care, alphabetically, by height, by width, by weight? Who is this Henry that you know? Who cares. The branding is all that matters.

The absolute nadir of this book is when time-travelling thirty-something hipster Henry sees a couple of teenage baby-punks at a family gathering. Over he bounds, and dictates to them a list of necessary bands. Inexplicably, they do not say, "Fuck off grandpa." Instead, they are awed and dutifully scribble down the canon. Truly, as they used to say in Smash Hits, it is like punk never happened.

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from: altariel
date: Apr. 6th, 2009 06:14 pm (UTC)

Read The Carhullan Army in a gulp last night and this morning. Here's what I scribbled on Note:Books:

"A book about a separatist women's army taking on a dystopian government of post-apocalyptic Britain was always going to be a winner with me, although I could have done with it being half as long again, and the only way I can convince myself that some of the episodes happened in the way described is to assume that the narrator is unreliable."

By which I mean that the transition from farm to combat mode was so quickly done - and so barely contested by what we have been shown are tough, argumentative women - that I think that Sister is lying in her account at this point. The whole assault on Rith was a ruse to draw the Authority's fire away from Carhullan, which is still flourishing under the leadership of the doctor.

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