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Time's Arrow Paperback – September 29, 1992
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From Library Journal
-Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
At once poetic and cynical, bestselling novelist Martin Amis is known for his unflinching critiques of modern life. Visit Amazon's Martin Amis Page.
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Top Customer Reviews
In Time's Arrow, the narrator from the very first words "I moved forward, out of the blackest sleep, ..." experiences time inverted. From death to birth, the narrator must learn of the past by experiencing the world - he is naive as to the events of the past - day-by-day inside Tod's body (growing younger). Tod is the Nazi war criminal whose secret life unfolds - backwards. Oddly, the narrator appears naive has he is forced to speculate on the past based only on his knowledge of the present and future. He does not know the past. And he is often wrong, just as we are in predicting the future.
Perhaps the most puzzingly aspect of the novel is the identity of the narrator. The narrator may be the protagonist or may be not ...It is ambiguous. Certainly, the narrator "rides" in the head of Tod Friendly (and his aliases) but he experiences the world mechanically like a closed circuit security camera. The narrator can only see and smell and hear what Tod sees and smells and hears. The narrator can not experience the thoughts or emotions of Tod. Strange but very rewarding. The narrator does see Tod's dreams.Read more ›
¶Make no mistake, this book is weird. Amis maintains the backwards motif scrupulously, with dialogues printed in reverse order (Amis' one concession to the reader is to render the individual sentences forward) and every event described backwards. For instance: to eat,
"You select a soiled dish, collect some scraps from the garbage, and settle down for a short wait. Various items get gulped up into my mouth, and after skillful massage with tongue and teeth I transfer them to the plate for additional sculpture with knife and fork and spoon."
¶The narrator is not Tod himself, exactly, but a sort of secondary consciousness, a spectator who is independent from Tod's thoughts but hostage inside his body. Amis never explains the peculiar identity of his narrator, who views the reverse unfolding of Tod's life as a forward-moving story.
¶Amis uses the backwards perspective to showcase his powers of description. The narrator's ingenious explanations of everyday processes reversed, like eating, are pearls of smart, funny writing. His adept usage of the gleefully oblivious narrator results in delicious irony, as in this exposition on taxis:
"This business with the yellow cabs, it sure looks like an unimprovable deal. They're always there when you need one, even in the rain or when the theaters are closing. They pay you up front, no questions asked. They always know where you're going. They're great.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Superbly written, delightfully humorous, and poignant enough to actually make you thinkPublished 26 days ago by Mark
I like Amis' fiction very much, but this book is truly one not to like; it's not hard to follow, it's just a bad premise. Read morePublished 3 months ago by JTR
If you can get over the fact that the whole premise is basically a high concept gimmick (Lets tell the story of a Nazi Doctor's life! In reverse! Read morePublished 7 months ago by jafrank
My book club decided to read this, mainly because it’s written backwards. It’s compelling reading…especially since if the reader is to make sense of the dialogue, the reader has to... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Julie Failla Earhart
I found this book hard to get into at first, but liked it more and more as time when on (or back... Heh.).
It's a very odd book, for sure. Read more