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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.
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
A good read, but not an easy read for me. I felt "slogging" required to complete the bookPublished 1 day ago by D. J. Singer
The reversal of the narrative was interesting. For about 25 pages. Beyond that it wore thin for me. By the end, I found it annoying. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Rixt
Amis at his best. An incredible feat of writing, what with the reverse timeline, and not gimmicky. Laugh out loud funny and yet poignant about the Holocaust and ultimate human... Read morePublished 26 days ago by proteasam
the story was too slow for my taste . There was a chapter that was brilliantly descriptive…brought me to tears . Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sara Wolcott
This entire book is written backwards. I really tried to read this and at first thought it was good but halfway through I gave up!Published 2 months ago by sandy maline
A fascinating and thought provoking novel. I highly recommend it!Published 2 months ago by Michele M Tencza
Takes a while to get into the un-rhythm (and sometimes it helps to read the dialogue exchanges again in reverse order) but a very interesting read. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Ron
not my favorite but if you like this kind of book, its probably worth it for you.Published 3 months ago by Hope Hudson