Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Time Traveller's Wife

I'm dreadfully fond of Spanish moss and not ashamed of it.

Of the many things I've tried to avoid in my life (alcoholism, drug addiction, quilting), reading like a writer has always been at the top of my list. I wasn't willing to sacrifice my love of books for the critical (as a writer, as opposed to a demanding reader) eye necessary to make a craftsmanship of my lackadaisical art. But I started The Time Traveller's Wife two nights ago and lost that battle minutes later. The book is so dependent on an infallible structure (in ways that films like Memento and The Sixth Sense are (almost), and The Lake House should have been) that the whole time, as a writer, I am thinking, "How does she do it?" And not in the jerk-off, did-she-mess-up, there's-got-to-be-a-hole-here-somewhere way, but in the damn-that's-great way. The kind of precision, outline, notes, so on and so forth that must have been required show real dedication. I, on the other hand, have a tendency to glob characters in and connect them in, unfortunately, Inarritu-esque ways. Anyhow, the book is a tear-jerker (I cried for the last 100 pages) and kind of manipulative but in a way that is easily forgivable. It can't not be any of these things. You walked into it from the very first page.
Anyhow, I know alot of literary types like myself would take one look at it and turn up their noses (we still haven't read Proust for Christ's sake, why waste time on a book club book!), but they shouldn't. It's worth reading.
And just so you know that I haven't been hijacked by a nicer, easier-to-please alien, I do have to say that the book drags on far too long, particularly in the last 100 pages, when you know what's going to happen, and the interim is filled with these small, dull, putting-off-the-tearful-end moments. Granted the whole thing could be considered a metaphor for life, but really, let's not.

Moby-Dick is still on. I just am being careful of it. Gentle. Don't want to startle it and have it kick me in the teeth.

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In summing up, I wish I had some kind of affirmative message to leave you with. I don't. Would you take two negative messages?
-- Woody Allen