Friday, February 10, 2006

I've waited long enough for somebody to start the ball rolling on The Time Traveler's Wife. I'll do it, I'll do it.

I'm only a few hundred pages in at this point, and have to say, I like the book. I think Niffenegger is pretty white and upper-crust in her references, that there are too many (2 so far) homophobic things going on, but all-in-all, I like the book.

As most things do, the premise of the book makes me think about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's about a normal person stuck with a supernatural problem -- Henry time travels; Buffy saves the world. It's also about a romance which is creepy, but seems genuine and solid -- at the age of 13 Clare realizes that she's in love with Henry, who she knows as a 30-something year old man; Buffy at 16 loves Angel who's like 250.

I read an interesting essay on the musical BTVS episode, called "Once More, with Feeling" (if you haven't seen it, you must). The essay points out that for sci-fi to succeed, a "creative tension" has to exist between the real and the unreal. My question about the Time Traveler's Wife : is the time travel real? Or a metaphor? Are we supposed to read Henry's genetic mutation as real? Or is he nuts, with multiple personality disorder?

There was another fantastic BTVS episode called "Normal Again" in which Buffy is drugged by the evil geek trio and hallucinates that she's in a mental institution hallucinating her life as the slayer. It's like, what if this has all been a psychotic episode? What if I'm reading Time Traveler's Wife with the assumption that Henry's completely bonkers? Because I think I kind of am at this point. I don't think Niffenegger (pen name next time, Audrey?) succeeds in selling the creative tension for me.

I like the book, I really do. I think, whether Henry's insane or really a time traveller. I think the love story (this really is a romance novel) is sweet, sad, and totally selfish on Henry's part.

What do y'all think?

1 comment:

Sly B said...

To me, thus far, the story seems less Buffy and more Woody Allen. I don't think Clare fell in love with Henry at all. He didn't give her the chance to. I think he's entirely selfish, so I would not expect for him to even think about how we girls are socialized to wait for our prince charming since before we're potty trained from watching (or hearing the stories) of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, or all the rest of the stories that convince girls that romance and the love of a man is the most coveted thing in life.

I'm only on page 163, but so far, Henry's story includes a lot of experiences that do not include thoughts of Clare. We even learn that he was a man whore - eating up as much sex as he could. Clare's only thought in life, through all her experiences, since the age of 6 has been Henry, Henry, Henry... I'm not convinced she fell in love with him. This older man shows up naked and having wanting looks on his face when she is SIX (I won't even talk about all the pedophilliac overtones of this book at this point). Then, she eventually learns that she marries him. Oh joy, her prince charming has arrived. He comes to save her honour when she has been done wrong by an errant knave. He takes her sexual advances like a father figure, removing her hand when it is inappropriately placed in his crotch, until he chooses the time is right to teach her about sex. Clare never has a chance to experience love, sex - heck, even life, without the overshadowing of Henry. If he thought of anyone other than himself, he would have allowed her to live and grow without him to learn if their love was really true before telling her - hey, I'm your husband. This just isn't love to me.

I think a true test of lasting love is more clearly explored in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where the characters love eachother, then go through such a difficult cruel time that they decide to erase eachother out of their memories, yet eventually end up together again.