The Time Keeper, by Mitch Albom, follows the creator of time. Dor, the main character, is Father Time; he is the Time Keeper, cursed to hear every one of man's cries for time. Published by Hyperion, ISBN: 9781401322786, the book should appeal to anyone who have ever said "I just don't have the time."
As a young man, Dor is the first human to develop a system of counting and measuring time. His discovery leads him to forsake everyone in his life, except one person who is immune to his obsession. This one person, Alli, is the only one who holds the key to access Dor's attention; the only one whose presence has the ability to make Dor forget about his discovery. Dor's motivations are made clear by the author. His environment and his discovery play against each other in a well-developed tension which, in turn, plays into the development of the entire narrative.
Mitch Albom provides enough detail at crucial points in the story to inform the reader of the driving themes of two other supporting characters, Sarah and Victor, who are plagued with being bound by time. Their personal struggles and their lives are driven by their blind constraint. Along with Dor, they are all prisoners of the same device. Only when the protagonist frees Dor, does Dor begin to understand the sentence and the meaning of the very thing he invented. He is a slave, perhaps in Plato's Cave, where he is only exposed to the shadows of thoughts and reality from outside the cave.
He eventually becomes the master of the thing that once held him. He holds the hourglass, where he was once imprisoned and which now maintains control. Before he can guide the others through their obsessions, he is without direction as he discerns the meaning of his hourglass. The suffering and death of his wife was beyond his control in his former life. Would he now have the opportunity to relieve the suffering of others before they ran out of time?
As the story comes to a climax, Dor must discover a way to intervene in the lives of Sarah and Victor. He must provide both of them the keys to escaping their own bonds, but first, Dor as the master of time, must now discover the significance of time. Having the power to effect a thing, we learn, is not the same as having real understanding of the thing. We are often blinded by the very thing we are compelled to worship.
I found the story well-written, with an abbreviated writing style making me feel like I was reading the thoughts of the characters instead of waiting for an author to develop the players for me. I was pleasantly shocked on reading how the sands of time represent "every moment of the universe." Overall, Mitch Albom presents a book where the focus is not on the style, but on the underlying development of the grand theme of time.
I was so engaged by the presentation of the story that I would have guessed it was merely about 50 pages instead of the actual 240. But as I learned, "Time Flies."
The measurement of time, Mitch Albom's parable tells us, distinguishes man from other animals. Man alone measures time, and man alone fears time running out. Every parable has a moral, and Albom's is this: we should replace fear of losing time with an appreciation of the time we have. It is a worthy lesson, even if the parable flounders as it makes its way there.
The Time Keeper imagines Father Time as a real person. In biblical times, Father Time's name was Dor. While his childhood friend Nim was building the Tower of Babel, Dor was learning how to measure time. When Dor's wife becomes ill, Dor tries to climb the tower in the hope that by reaching the heavens, he can make time stop. When the tower falls, Dor is banished to a cave and cursed with immortality because he offended God. By teaching man to count time, "the wonder of the world he has been given is lost."
Alternating with Dor's story are those of two other characters. Victor Delamonte, the fourteenth-richest man in the world, has a tumor on his liver. At the age of 86, he is running out of time. He resolves to buy more time. Sarah Lemon is a smart but unattractive seventeen-year-old who falls in love with an insensitive hunk named Ethan. When he rejects her, she doesn't know if she wants to keep living -- she wants less time than she has been allotted. Dor's penance -- his chance to atone for the sin of inventing clocks -- requires him to intervene in the lives of Victor and Sarah.
The Time Keeper is easily read in one or two sittings (depending upon how long you sit). Albom uses simple sentences to tell a simple story. As is generally true of parables, simplicity is The Time Keeper's defining characteristic. The proposition it initially advances -- that counting moments leads to misery, that we should lead simple and grateful lives -- isn't particularly profound, but the nature of a parable is to illustrate an obvious lesson.
But is it an honest lesson? Dor was punished (or readjusted) because he wasn't content to live his life without counting its moments, but inquiry and invention are not a wasted or evil use of one's life. There is much to be said for the human capacity to plan and to inquire, traits that inevitably lead to an understanding of time. Albom's point -- that we need to spend our life appreciating the time we have rather than fretting about the time we don't have -- is a good one, but it's also a half-truth. The downside of measuring time is balanced by countless upsides, a reality that Albom's story ignores. The sense of urgency, the race to accomplish something before the clock runs out, has led to better medicine, longer lives, greater comfort, serious literature, beautiful art, and a host of other worthy accomplishments that would never have been achieved if everyone were content to tend sheep and feel grateful for a quiet, uneventful life.
Albom's expressly stated notion that life was more satisfying before the invention of time measurement is unsupportable. Time measurement actually began with prehistoric man, long before Dor, and cave dwelling isn't my idea of a fulfilling life. There's an undertone in Albom's story -- simplicity is good, progress is bad -- that is reflected in Albom's vision of a future in which people have "forgotten how to feel." A few hundred years from now, Albom posits, people will long for "a simpler, more satisfying world." Albom's peek at the future is a denial of history: life might have been simpler in biblical times, but it was also shorter and more difficult. Lives were consumed by the struggle to survive. The slaves who were building the Tower of Babel had little opportunity to feel grateful for their existence. The ensuing millennia haven't made people any less capable of "feeling," and it's difficult to believe that humans will lose that innate ability as time marches on. People are fond of believing that everything was better in the past, but as Woody Allen recently demonstrated, the present is a better place in which to live.
Of course, parables aren't meant to be taken literally, and if one reads the story solely as a reminder of the need to appreciate whatever time we have, the message resonates. There are conventional novels that make the same point with greater depth and more subtlety (The Chequer Board is a favorite), but parables aren't meant to be subtle or deep. Nor are the gaps in internal logic as important in a parable as they would be in a different kind of story. At its root, The Time Keeper tells a good story, has a sweet ending, and delivers half of a universal truth -- but only half.
on September 7, 2012
" The Time Keeper" by Mitch Albom. Release date: Sept. 4, Hyperion Publishing
"Where did the time go?" "Time flies." "I ran out of time." "It's like time stood still." They're just a few examples of the time-related phrases that we all use, words that imply is something that we can't control.
But, what if you could, would you want what comes with the responsibility?
Time - whether it's too or too little - and how it's handled by fallible humans is the subject of best-selling author Mitch Albom's latest , "The Time Keeper." Just as with his other hits - "Tuesdays with Morrie," "Have a Little Faith," "One More Day" and "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," his novel is a thought provoker, urging readers to find the depth in his simple, yet imaginative writings. He has once again taken a simple theme and created an inspirational tale that lingers in the mind long after the last page is read.
Time is first noticed 600,000 years by Dor, an ordinary man with an extraordinary need to count, measure and bring order to his days. He is the first man on earth to count hours, literally becoming Father Time. Rather than embracing time as a gift from God, Dor challenges Him when his wife dies.
Dor is banished to a cave when voices rise up from a pool as they ask, plead and demand more time. Centuries have passed, and Dor doesn't have the spiritual strength to take much more. God agrees to free him if he can help two people, a teenage girl named Sarah and an elderly man, Victor, embrace the true meaning of time. Armed with a magical hourglass, Dor travels through time into today's society, one dominated and dictated by time.
He finds the lonely, heartbroken girl ready to kill herself. Victor is counting on his money to help him cheat death and live forever. One wants to cut her time short, while the other selfishly considers cryogenics so he can have another lifetime in the future. Dor's mission is to help them understand that time is a precious gift, one not to be squandered or manipulated. Instead, it should be embraced and lived fully. Can he save them in time?
Albom's story is a reminder that we, as earthy beings, are not keepers of our time, but we are its celebrants. As such, it's up to each of us to decide how to spend whatever time we've been given. and not waste the precious gift. Actions today have consequences tomorrow. "The Time Keeper" inspires readers to take personal stock, take time to make time and appreciate the precious gift - before it's too late.
on September 8, 2012
I devoured this book in an evening. There is a pleasant mix of reality, fantasy,love/heartache, and even the slightest touch of history thrown in.
Anyone who has loved someone, missed someone, regretted a decision they have made, or felt the occasional pangs of loneliness will be able to relate to these characters. Every character has a deep sadness that surrounds their closest relationships. This sadness is what makes the characters rich and relatable.
The only reason I didn't give it a full 5 stars was because I thought it had a little bit of cheesyness at a couple of moments near the end. I don't mind this, it does not detract from my personal enjoyment of the book; however, I acknowledge it as a weakness that could have been avoided.
Would recommend. Depending on your mood, have a couple of tissues near by just in case.
on September 13, 2012
I've never written a review before, but am compelled to write this one. Albom is one of my favorite authors and with this book he has created yet another classic. "The Timekeeper" is a fable easily read in one sitting. Type-A personality readers will connect with Victor Delamonte, a man who believes he can control his destiny, even in death. Any reader who has parented a teenager will connect with the other main character, Sarah Lemon, a girl the antithesis of Victor who believes she has no control over her destiny. Any reader who has struggled with illness, depression or death will know the theme to be all too painfully true:
"There is a reason God limits our days."
"To make each one precious." (p. 206)
Any one who recognizes the inherent truth in this statement will love this book.
on September 7, 2012
I was very excited about "the time keeper"; I am a fan of Alboum's work over-all, but do think his work can be hit or miss. Though I am sad to say it, this book, for me was a miss. I bought it the day of release and read the book in about 2.5 hours. I think the only reason I kept reading it was because I was waiting for it to get better-after all, it had so much potential! I was waiting fo the life changing message-the message that would inspire me to savor every moment. What I found was a greedy old man who, at 86, could not accept the end and a typical teenager who is shy and unsure of herself. I think Albom made Sarah a bit too sterotypical for his own good. Being raised by a single mom, neglected by her father, chubby and akward when it comes to boys? Check, check, check, and check. It was very difficult for me to relate to both Sarah and Victor because they were so cookie-cutter, almost like Albom did not have the TIME to develop them as characters we would relate to and root for. I also think time is good. If, like Alboum states in the book, man's days are limited so they can realize how precious they are than would it not make sense for days, hours, minutes to be counted as well, if only for the same reason? I think Albom was confused on what he wanted to teach us this time around--does he want us to appreciate the time we have by not recognizing it? Or value the life we live because we appreciate time and it's limitations it inheritely has on all of us? I gave Albom 2 Stars because I did adore the love story between Dor and Alli (Father Time and his wife)...and when all was said and done and I was reading the letter from Albom to his readers, he mentioned his own wife and his own love story, and I cried, because it was authentic and beautiful, and real.
on October 24, 2012
As some other reviewer said, I wish I could get back the time I spent reading this book. The story is meant to be a parable, a lesson, for today's rush-a-day world, and open one's eyes as to how we obsess about time in all aspects of our lives. It succeeds in a minor way, with a handful of mildly insightful comments. The characters are two dimensional, the leaps of faith (if you'll pardon a pun) and gaps in what little plot there are so slapdash that is is unintentionally comical far too often. The Christian theme is clearly there, so believers might get something out of it that I didn't. Tuesdays With Morrie was a decent book, while this one is way too much of a stretch, a transparent attempt to capitalize on superior prior works in order to gain book sales for this lazy piece of literature. It would never make it otherwise.
on October 30, 2012
The moral of Mitch Albom's latest novelette The Time Keeper is: don't commit suicide because you might end up discovering the cure for cancer. Also, don't cryogenically freeze yourself because that's not a good way to go either. No really, Albom's take home message is spelled out for readers who make it to the end and goes along the lines of "God limits our days in order to make each one precious, so carpe diem." A laudable message, but one that's poorly served by an abbreviated book that reads more like a badly written children's story than one with adults in mind.
Never having previously read this author, I didn't really know what to expect from the pocket-sized book currently on the New York Times' best seller list. It's vaguely reminiscent of Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist--ironically the author even refers to the book halfway through--in that it's a fable that preaches a life philosophy. The book tries to do what A Christmas Carol and movies like It's a Wonderful Life did so well. They played with elements of the fantastic to offer compelling "what if" stories that resonate with audiences and leave them with a warm feeling that cloaks the fact that they've just been delivered a sermon in disguise. Albom's didactic agenda, however, is audible on every page.
Characters are flat, unrealistic, and unsympathetic, from the title character who invents time-keeping to the millionaire anxious to avoid the death sentence his cancer diagnosis represents. The teenage girl's experiences with a high school crush are mindlessly predictable and infuriatingly developed. (Stop texting the really good looking guy at school! He's not that into you!) There's also a jarring disconnect between the central characters' stories. It was disconcerting to follow plots that bounced from the story of the Tower of Babel to a suicidal teenager's exploits on Facebook.
There's a scene near the end of the book where the millionaire who's spent boatloads of money to have himself frozen so he can be revived in the future gets to actually see his future. Imagine the scene in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, when the future world is about to discover the answer to life, the universe and everything after millennia of waiting. Remove all the humor and add a desperate plug for some emotion and that's how this book ultimately ends.
Maybe fables are not Albom's forte, or I'm not his intended audience. I might give Tuesday's with Morrie a try before I write off the author completely.
on September 6, 2014
A novel which has but 3 main characters. Dor, Victor, and Sarah. The latter two are present day. Dor comes from deep in the past. He is, in fact, Father Time. He is the master who invented time.
The book should appeal to all who have ever rued "Time" in one form or another. Who hasn't?
Mr. Albom gives us a novel which very cleverly sends a strong message to appreciate the time we have on this earth. Victor and Sarah come from opposite ends of the spectrum. One wanting more time; and the other less time. They come together in a most unconventional way only to have Dor teach them, and us, to open our eyes to the flow of life.
Father time, himself, also learns a thing or two. As in other novels by this author, a message is cleverly and clearly set within the pages. It appears to you quite clearly and without too much pondering. More than entertaining; it's a lesson learned.
on September 27, 2012
I loved the idea for the book. However, I thought the two characters that Dor encounters were pretty boring. I guess they were supposed to represent everyman and everywoman, but they seemed very one dimensional. My motto in life is Be Here Now, so the concept intrigued me, but although the message came through loud and clear, the road to get there was fairly uneventful and a bit dull. Albom's writing is a bit too simple for me, and his bold "headings" throughout the chapters were distracting. All in all, a disappointment.