Reading Journal 2023: This Time Tomorrow

Reading Journal 2023: This Time Tomorrow
Author: Emma Straub

I love time travel. I love books about time travel. A book about a father who wrote a book about time travel and a daughter who finds herself caught up in her fathers time travel stories feels tailor made for me. Add to this the fact that this was my initial foray into someone who is a beloved and celebrated author by many and I was ready to dive in.

Unfortunately I found myself labouring to really get into the story in the early going, which kind of tarnished the bits of redemptive value the final third manages to conjure. The writing is not the issue. Straub is clearly good at her craft and has a handle on pacing and plot development. It was the characters I couldn’t connect with. Worse yet, I found them mostly unlikeable and superficial. I get this was part of the point; the superficiality of the daughters life leads to certain revelations later on. But it never felt to me like Straub was willing to fully confront the superficiality of the past that she tables in the first quarter of the novel. It just kind of sticks around colouring the slightly more aware persona that emerges from the journey Alice (the daughter) takes over the course of the narrative. Even worse yet, Straub makes some predictable moves to encase what is at its heart an existential crisis in a romanticised nihilism. There are are some decent lessons to mine underneath it all for the art and act of living in the present, but for me even that rings a bit false considering the authors failure to truly attend for the reality of our main characters past.

That’s a lot of negative, and so its worth saying that I did actually appreciate the way Straub imagines the time travel motif. It felt fresh and original, even if it borrows from some familiar motifs and ideas. She strikes a nice balance between upholding the rules of the game within her story (always important) while.never letting that burden the story itself. It has a natural telling in that sense. You can enjoy the straightforward premise without needing to understand a complicated theory about time and its philosophical interests. Full credit there, and for me it was the strongest element of this story.

Published by davetcourt

I am a 40 something Canadian with a passion for theology, film, reading writing and travel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: