47 of 61 people found the following review helpful
Compelling, Yet Flawed,
This review is from: Time and Again (Paperback)
Time and Again is the story of Simon Morley's successful attempt to travel back in time to 1882 New York City to unravel the mystery behind his present-day girlfriend's custodial father's father's suicide. The story is compelling, and while Mr. Finney may not be the most gifted writer, he is indeed a gifted storyteller. The plot is character-driven and short on science, therefore many science fiction diehards may find it not to their liking. (Hint: time travel in Time and Again is not the result of technology, but instead a trance-induced tricking of one's mind to "see beyond the bend in the river behind you as you travel down river".) The novel's strength lies in Mr. Finney's descriptive narrative of a New York City long gone. He not only succeeds in describing buildings and landmarks in vivid detail, but also depicts the subtle nuances of the people of that era - long before television and even radio... when people actually dined together, and afterward played charades or any number of other parlor games to amuse and entertain themselves before bedtime.
Part mystery and part romance, the story is lovingly told, but at times the narration borders on the melodramatic and the diction often becomes quirky. Also, at times one wonders if Mr. Finney is using his protagonist to editorialize his own views of our modern day society - comparisons of late nineteenth century New York (a kinder, gentler New York) with the turbulent 1960's abound, intended perhaps to create a multidimensional character, but which only serve to highlight Morley's inconsistencies.
Often the reader is asked to stretch his disbelief well beyond the boundaries of fiction (I found it easier to believe in time travel than I did believing Mr. Finney's description of how the fire in the World Building was started); the plot perhaps is a trifle too pat. Morley seems to make the right decision at the right time, yet even when he doesn't, this too, seems tightly scripted - it usually happens for a reason and usually to Morley's benefit.
Having missed this book thirty years ago, I recently picked up the Scribner trade edition that was released in 1995. One can see why it has attained cult status: it can be read in a multitude of ways - as historical fiction, as a romance novel, even as a mystery novel - and therefore appeals to a wide spectrum of readers, so long as none of them are too discerning. I won't say that I didn't enjoy it; but neither can I claim it as one of my top 10 (or even top 100) favorite novels of all time.
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Initial post: Jun 14, 2012 6:59:31 PM PDT
Old Grump says:
You haven't read enough Finney. Nostalgia was his stock in trade, and most of his stories dealt with an attempt--usually unsuccessful--to reach a cleaner, greener land that existed somewhere in time or space. New York in 1882 was about as close as any of his protagonists ever got. While he spent a good deal of time on the downside of that scene, his preference was clear.
Posted on May 5, 2014 5:57:15 PM PDT
S. Frazier says:
LET'S GO TI-GERS!!!
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