Time and Again by Jack Finney
1970 Simon & Schuster
Finished on 12/18/11
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)
“Sleep. And when you awake everything you know of the twentieth century will be gone from your mind. Tonight is January 21, 1882. There are no such things as automobiles, no planes, computers, televisions. ‘Nuclear’ appears in no dictionary. You haven’t heard the name Richard Nixon.”
Did illustrator Si Morley really step out of his twentieth-century apartment one night—right into the winter of 1882? The U.S. Government believed it, especially when Si returned with a portfolio of brand-new sketches and tintype photos of a world that no longer existed—or did it?
Let Jack Finney make a believer of you as he takes you on an incredible tour in words and pictures of a time long gone.
When I think of Christopher Reeves, I don’t think of Superman, but rather Richard Collier, the Chicago playwright in Somewhere in Time. I’ve never read Richard Matheson’s novel, but I fell in love with the movie, longing to visit the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. As I read Jack Finney’s novel, Time and Again, I was reminded of the love story between Collier and Elise McKenna and made a mental note to add the film to my Netflix queue.
My exposure to time travel stories is quite limited. I’ve read The Invisible Man, but not The Time Machine. Several years ago, I read The Mirror (Marlys Millhiser) for an online book club and the story has stuck with me ever since. I really enjoyed that book and need to get a copy for a future rereading. And, then of course, there’s the popular Time Traveler’s Wife, which I did enjoy quite a lot, in spite of the confusing chronology. But it wasn’t until Nan made a reference to Time and Again, followed by a comment by another friend (who said Stephen King mentioned the novel in his afterward in 11/22/63), that I finally decided to pull this book off my shelf. I have no idea how long I’ve owned it, but it was long overdue for a read.
I wish I could say I loved it. I liked it well enough, but it’s probably not one I’d read again. I had a hard time suspending my disbelief to the point at which it seemed reasonable to assume that one could go back in time simply through self-hypnosis. There were several instances in which the descriptive detail went on far too long with very little dialogue, and I found myself flipping ahead to see how many pages remained in the current chapter. December may have been the wrong time of year to attempt reading this book (or any book, for that matter!). It took me almost six weeks to finish this book of just under 400 pages. The second half of the novel was more suspenseful than the first, so I did find myself looking forward to reading a few pages every night, but overall, the pace was a bit uneven. That said, I’m still interested in reading the sequel, From Time to Time, which was published a year after Finney’s death.
On the Future:
At the table during dinner he was almost directly across from me, and I wanted to needle him, wanted to get at him; I couldn’t help it. Maud Torrence was talking about a Professor Peirce who had just read a paper before the New York Academy of Sciences on the advantages of establishing national and international time zones. Listening, I discovered there was no standardization of times anywhere in the country or world; any little town was free to pick its own time and often did, so that the time in towns a few miles apart might vary; eleven minutes maybe, or seventeen, or thirty-one. Railroad stations had clocks showing the times in different places, and Byron remarked that railroad timetables on long east-west trips were almost impossible to write because there were some seventy-odd different times used in the places the trains went through. Professor Pierce suggested time zones to be called Atlantic Time, Mississippi Time, Rocky Mountain Time, and Pacific Time, and I considered making a prediction but I was more interested in Jake.
While the book was not terribly enthralling, I did enjoy the various historical references, such as the one above, as well as Si’s observation of Dutch immigrants, and one lengthy conversation about the origins of the Statue of Liberty.
Books added to my TBR list:
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Replay by Ken Grimwood
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis