Tuesday, October 22, 2013

“Time and Again” by Jack Finney – The Charming Simplicity of the Past

Many of us have imagined what it would be like to travel back in time, whether purposefully or accidentally, whether backwards or forwards. Though we are all different people, there is no denying that many of us imagine traveling to the past as reverting back to a time when things were simple, more stable and predictable. 

Naturally, such a feeling comes from our own knowledge of the future people back in the days didn’t have, but nevertheless we can’t help but feel attracted to such a concept. Time and Again by Jack Finney explores this idea, as we are taken on a grandiose journey following an illustrator, Si Morley, who suddenly travels back from the 1970s all the way to 1880s New York. Getting over such strange circumstances rather quickly, Morley walks on through this “vanished” city of the past, reveling in its glory, simplicity, and quaintness.

Time and Again is one of those novels, in my opinion, that won’t really cater to readers who need a fast-moving pace or a clearly-defined plot in order to appreciate a book. There is no real end goal or objective for Si Morley here, as the story is basically woven into the imagery Finney showers us with of the old city. He truly has a way of describing things, of making you feel nostalgic for events yet to come and a certain appreciation for how things were in the past. 

As you could guess, Finney takes us through many wonderful sights during the journey, ranging from parlor games in a boarding house all the way to the Statue of Liberty’s arm sitting in Madison Square. 

Each and every one of them is described with great detail and vivacity that you actually feel as if you are standing there. Naturally, this is a book that will please more those who have at some point lived in New York, but even if you haven’t, once you’re done reading it you will feel completely immersed in it.

All in all, Time and Again is a very subtle novel which relies a lot on imagery to explore the fantastic concept of time travel and the appeal of a forgotten past. I definitely recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind a slow pace and is looking for a read to ease the mind rather than excite it.

Jack Finney (October 2, 1911 – November 14, 1995)

Jack Finney
(October 2, 1911 – November 14, 1995)

Jack Finney was an American author who mostly dabbled in science fiction and thrillers. His book, The Body Snatchers, served as the basis for the 1956 cult classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers movie, and he was the recipient of numerous rewards, including the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

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