Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Lost Time Accidents: A Novel Hardcover – February 9, 2016
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
“For this reader, at least, a novel is a success if it causes time to warp, to bend and deform, if it breaks time apart and puts it back together again in an interesting way. John Wray does all of the above, with wide-ranging intelligence and boundless verbal energy. Any experiment that Wray conducts is likely to be worth a reader's time, and The Lost Time Accidents is certainly no exception.” ―Charles Wu, The New York Times Book Review
“The Lost Time Accidents is a wonderful, delirious, layered confection . . . It is a conga line of a novel, a full brass band of a novel, an epic: not only because of its scale . . . but also because it samples wildly from other genres, and contains smaller universes within itself, studded like chocolate chips within the larger story.” ―Annalisa Quinn, NPR
“On the sentence level, the book is absolutely delightful . . . The Lost Time Accidents crackles with exquisite impressions of eras long gone and close to home and is so immersive that it's sometimes difficult to pull yourself back to the real world.” ―Josh Cook, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Everything is here in The Lost Time Accidents: science, religion, family, history, sexism, literature, cinema, World War II, pickles, and pulps. And seeded among the cycles and mutations is the essence of relativity: Here’s the world in entirety. What will you make of it?” ―Samantha Hunt, The Washington Post
"The Lost Time Accidents is a full-dress symphony . . . an uncanny blend of science fiction, theoretical physics, historical drama, and what may well be the oddest coming-of-age story we see this year." ―Steven Donoghue, The National (UAE)
"A big, enveloping story that’s also tenderly wrought, The Lost Time Accidents whips through Viennese pastry shops, cluttered libraries, and the chambers of its narrator’s sentimental heart.” ―Maddie Crum, The Huffington Post
"[A] sweeping historical novel that's also a love story but is rooted in time-travel science fiction and takes on as its subject the meaning of time itself. This is no small endeavor. It's hard not to admire this book, the mass and richness of which is a testament to the meticulous, dedicated work of its talented author . . . Wray's prose is breathtakingly evocative . . . [D]elightfully ridiculous, reminiscent of Michael Chabon at his madcap best.” ―Janelle Brown, The Los Angeles Times
"[A]n arresting mosaic of science fiction, history, and philosophy which proves Wray’s (Lowboy, 2010) remarkable malleability and talent.” ―Booklist (starred review)
“With this darkly playful chronicle of three generations of crackpots and criminals, losers and visionaries, John Wray has written a book of eerie magic: Waldy Tolliver’s love letter to the mysterious Mrs. Haven is a secret love letter to fiction itself. A mischievous epic, luminous and strange.” ―Kiran Desai
“For a while now, John Wray has been writing as if let in on the secret history of the world, paying attention to moments we all know, but at the point where we’ve stopped looking. So of course only he would find the crazy quilt universe of sci-fi, war, mystery, doomed love and eerie foresight that was always lurking deep in the grand old novel in letters. This is literature as high wire act without the net; epic in scale, even bigger in heart.” ―Marlon James
“John Wray gets his Calvino on, his Mitchell on, his Murakami on, and even his Joyce on in this spectacular rattlebag of a novel. The Lost Time Accidents circulates through time and geography--from New York to outer space to Central Europe--and eventually ebbs eloquently back to the essential questions of who we are and why we're here. Who says the novel is dead? Just smash the clocks and open this book.” ―Colum McCann
“John Wray is the next wave of American fiction.” ―Jonathan Lethem
About the Author
John Wray is the author of the critically acclaimed novels, Lowboy, The Right Hand of Sleep, and Canaan's Tongue. He was named one of Granta's Best of Young American Novelists in 2007. The recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award, he lives in Brooklyn, New York.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Told from the point of view of Waldy Tolliver, who has become trapped outside of time in his aunts’ hoarder-esque apartment, The Lost Time Accidents traces his family history, starting with his great-grandfather, Ottokar, back around the turn of the 19th century. Ottokar comes up with an important theory about time but is killed on that very day before he can pass it on to anyone. Only portions of his unclear notes remain.
From there, his sons take up the pursuit. One, Waldemar (Waldy’s namesake) becomes an infamous Nazi, conducting his “time” experiments in a concentration camp. The other, Kaspar, marries and moves to the U.S. He has two daughters (the aunts, Enzie & Genny) and a son, Orson, who becomes a science fiction writer/religion founder (a la L. Ron Hubbard despite being name check as Orson Card Tolliver). Orson is Waldy’s father. All are caught up in some way with “the curse”, the pursuit of Ottokar’s theory of time.
There is certainly much to enjoy here. The way the story tracks from central Europe to the United States through the 20th century is great. The characters are drawn well. The way Mr. Wray is able to reference science and science fiction as well as creating excerpts from Orson’s work is wonderful.
On the other hand, the story never seems to generate any heat. It feels as frozen as Waldy in his time trap. Despite some excellent individual moments, I was left cold at the end.
I didn't love this (4/5), and the execution didn't always work terribly well (4/5), but, I'm going with 5 for Wray's sheer originality and ingenuity. Because what this book manages to do is somehow weave together questions about historical memory (i.e. how do we atone for the sins of our forbears? how are psychoses, beliefs, passions passed down through generations?), a challenge to Einstein's theory of relativity (!! synchronicity), a mind-bending structure that spirals inwards in time, a century's worth of events, and an intelligent, ingenious exploration of the ethics of science and of the nature of time.
Above all, The Time Accidents is a story about time in all its dimensions: physical, experiential, historical, psychological, poetical, mathematical, etc. And who doesn't love/isn't intrigued/vexed/lost/beholden to/perplexed in/by time?!?!
Time, the supposed 4th dimension, only moves in one direction (as we experience it). But, mathematically, if it is just another dimension, it should be traversable, like space (also, in physics, time is just another coordinate in the spacetime fabric). Physically, we're always in seemingly the same time. Yet time can pass slower or faster, depending on how we're feeling/what we are doing (same in physics, it turns out: the "passing" of time is related to an object's movement through space). If you think about time as coordinates (x,y,z,t), and take an object that is first located at coordinate A, and then at B, then time begins to look a lot like movement, the coordinate that describes motion. What does this even mean? I have no clear idea - it's virtually impossible, really, to capture time, though many have tried, in all disciplines.
Then-what about dreams and memory? Memory can take us back in time. After all, isn't the world as we know it just our perception? And our memories are mental events, like anything else we process from experience. Is memory the ultimate time-travel? If so, what about historical memory? What about that which has been passed down through generations, what about concepts that have encrusted themselves with time that now seem "given", when in fact they are just artifacts of time and reenactment?
The Time Accidents is one of those books that won't give you an answer (a definite plus from my perspective), but rather lead you in a journey of questions-not only those explicitly asked in the story, but also those the reader is inspired to imagine on their own. For me, this translated into a crazed book-buying binge about things like octopuses (they are radial creatures after all - how do they experience space, and thus time, since spacetime is one and the same). And, into furiously printing out a slew of articles about stuff like "mathematical philosophy of time in Minkowskian space" (I'm a math geek, as all math teachers should be). Your inspiration could take many other forms, depending on your interests - there's the Nazi question, the question about how science intersects with ethics, the question of familial guilt and psychosis, the question about the nature of dreams and memory, you name it, Wray's got you covered.
The book is definitely an investment (of time, incidentally), a dense 500 pages. It's not perfect (for example, Wray's wittiness is at times self-conscious and somewhat awkward), but it's one of the most curiosity-inducing books I've ever read, and for that alone, I would HIGHLY recommend it!!