Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife: Thoughts

I just finished rereading one of my favorite books of all time: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. The book takes places in Chicago, so it was really cool to reread it here, and to totally know some of the places that Henry and Clare go to (for example, the cafe where I used to wait tables). Niffenegger is a professor in the MFA program at Columbia College Chicago, and it's inspiring to know that TTW is her first novel.

As I was reading, I found myself wondering if Niffenegger herself uses a writing method similar to The Method that I explained earlier. Almost every section starts with the sentence "I am..." Then, throughout even the first paragraph, one can find what the "worst thing" is and the "we are here because" part. 

It's really amazing because while the book has a very intricate plot (a man time-travels almost as a sort of epilepsy, and always ends up stark naked in some place he normally has been before, and often encounters himself or his loved ones at other ages as he does so) the whole book is entirely scenes. I would be hard-pressed to find a section of explanation every thirty pages, even. Each scene is intricately crafted, emotionally felt, and while technically this is just another love story, it seems totally fresh and new. 

I once saw an "about me" section on someone's blog, and one question they answered was: What book do you wish you had written? For me, this is it. I am utterly jealous of Niffenegger's craft, her voice, her honesty, and of course the unbelievable creativity it took to come up with something as intricate as this. While I love reading this book, it also makes me just the tiniest bit sad because I wonder if I can ever end up with something as marvelously crafted as The Time Traveler's Wife is. 

L. Stacks

1 comment:

Adam Morgan said...

Funny. I use this too, as a model for combining a speculative concept with literary stylism. She does a great job of letting the characters drive the plot in every scene, instead of using time travel as a plot device itself. Perfect!

I'm planning on sneaking into Niffenegger's office at Columbia this term and interrogating her on her methods/inspiration.