The Lost Time Accidents Hardcover – 2 Jun 2016
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"This is literature as high-wire act without the net; epic in scale, even bigger in heart" (Marlon James)
"A science fiction novel about time-travel, filled with unabashedly zany characters . . . a highly enjoyable book" (Sunday Times)
"John Wray gets his Calvino on, his Mitchell on, his Murakami on, and even his Joyce on in this spectacular rattlebag of a novel . . . Who says the novel is dead? Just smash the clocks and open this novel" (Colum McCann)
"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)
"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" (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" (Los Angeles Times)
"[A]n arresting mosaic of science fiction, history, and philosophy which proves Wray's remarkable malleability and talent" (Booklist (starred review))
"Startlingly accomplished" (Daily Telegraph)
"John Wray is the next wave of American fiction" (Jonathan Lethem)
"America's most original young writer" (Gary Shteyngart author of Absurdistan)
"John Wray is a daring young writer" (James Wood New Yorker)
"One of our most astonishing and relevant young writers" (Esquire)
"Perfect for fans of David Mitchell and Jonathan Lethem . . . John Wray exceeds even the highest expectations in this ebulliently written, deeply intelligent take on the Great American Novel. Do not be surprised to see this on the Man Booker Shortlist" (NetGalley)
"Between Thomas Pynchon and David Mitchell . . . daunting and entertaining" (New Statesman)
This year's Big American Novel is a high-concept epic that races through one family's experience of the twentieth centurySee all Product description
Top customer reviews
The story is narrated by the youngest member of the family. It takes us back to Viennese salons buzzing with rumours about Einsteins theory and up to the death camps of World War Two.
I would like to thank Net Galley, Carrongate Books and the author John Wray for my ARC In exchange for an honest review.
The novel The Lost Time Accidents counts over 500 pages and spans more than one century. Of all the characters Waldy is the one who stays with us from the beginning until the end, so we might as well call him our main character. The plot meanders between Waldy’s current situation in his aunts’ apartment, his past love affair with a woman called Mrs Haven, and his chronologically recounted family history.
In the first half of the book, I had problems with these sudden changes of setting. This is where you are introduced to a great part of the important characters and as soon as I got a feel for one of the narrative threads, it was cut and the plot continued elsewhere. This way, I wasn’t able to connect to any of the characters and soon I had to bring myself to continue reading, because the plot moved so slowly. If I were one to just give up on books, I probably would have done so after 1/4 of the novel, but I like to read until the last page and in this case I’m glad I did.
I don’t know if it’s me, or if The Lost Time Accidents really increases its pacing in the second half. This half reads much better than the first one. Maybe because we already know most of the characters and also, because the pieces finally start to fall into place. It’s also this process of digesting the complex plot in combination with a fitting ending (that I still don’t quite understand) that leaves me satisfied that I finished the novel after all.
As you can see, The Lost Time Accidents isn’t an easy read and it isn’t easy to review. It is a very complex novel with lots of talk about physics and time. You will meet many diverse characters, but you’ll never get to know them very intimately (except for their shared obsession with time). If all this sounds good to you and you aren’t afraid to be challenged by this 500-page tome, then you should have a look at The Lost Time Accidents.
What's to like? As this is a book about time, we spend a lot of time in the past as Waldemar narrates his family history, namely that of his grandfather in his formative years. The writing is superb and carefully crafted. The talented Mr. Wray certainly knows how to bring old world Vienna to life. The reader can smell the smoke and feel the atmosphere within its turn-of-the-century coffeehouses. The science is impressive, though I won't pretend to understand it, not being a physicist. The characters feel authentic with some being dearer to the reader than others.
This book has a vast amount of promise and I may yet learn how it ends. For now, I wish it well and will certainly keep an eye out for more works by this skilled author.
As the twentieth century develops and war breaks out in Europe one son leaves and travels to America, while his brother uses the prison camps to conduct more experiments.
Their story, and that of the rest of the family is told in a letter written by the great grandson ‘Waldy’ Tolliver to his lost love. He has plenty of time to write this letter as he seems to have been exiled from the flow of time himself. Can he find his way back and unmake his romantic mistakes?
Time travel will always be a popular narrative for novelists but this one is most inventive in its use. The past isn’t explored by time travel but bought back to life through family stories of turn-of-the-century Viennese salons and how Einstein’s radical new theory stole their thunder, and reminisces about the golden age of post-war pulp science fiction and how they accidentally inspired a modern religion.
It isn’t until the last eighth or so of the book that we discover if the Nazi Waldy is named after really did discover time travel or not, and what that could mean for the world.
This is a big novel, but quite engrossing. It doesn’t suffer from a lack of editing, every word is either necessary to the plot or necessary to its beauty. It took me about a week to finish it so a good one for when you have regular reading time in your day, I imagine if you had to just read it at weekends it could get a little confusing.
NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review which appeared first on The BookEaters blog - [...]
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