2 September 2017

The Burden of Einstein: A Review of The Lost Time Accidents, John Wray

Eight degrees celsius and summer isn't even embarrassed enough to send an apologetic bouquet of flowers. Waking to October weather on only the second day of September has left me less than - while these past months have simultaneously streamed by in a slow, molasses drippy way I am befuddled this Labour Day long weekend. With school out, and a kid at home, summer has literally been walks to the park but after 8 glorious weeks of those very walks, one more weekend spent cavorting on the monkey bars seems anything but awesome. So what to do, in a city this size surely there are options - The Canadian National Exhibition, an air show, ComicCon, a busker festival. On paper, all are tantalizing amazing until you realize that with you will be thousands of other human beings, clamouring to make this last summer moment the very best. 

We are staying home. 

The kiddo just snuck by with a butter knife, a chunk of ice in a tupperware container and a mission. Normally, I would be on that before he even opened the freezer door but this weekend, the last weekend before school a parent needs a pair of ignore lenses. Fun fact, a seven-year-old talks all day. Adorable, until you realize that by talk I refer to the information that only a parent can love or at least visualize inspiring for approximately 4 weeks. By week 5, you are buying a bike, securing a helmet and instructing road safety. By the middle of next week, the verbatim that drove me to the gin will retrospectively be missed. Currently, as the alarming sounds of ice being chipped in the master bedroom echoes throughout the house, I acquiesce to all the little boy shenanigans. 

With the inevitable questions of how summer was spent and what was read pass through the school ground parental greetings, I surmise yet again my reading pile will have little relevance but to a few. As with every summer, I hang my geeky cloak to done my Nancy Drew cardigan. My science fiction reading life has become a full-time passion thus a vacation from the weird is not only appreciated but required. True, dipping into the worlds of murder might seem just as odd, the classic whodunnit is this girl's idea of relaxation. Having spent six months grappling with a review for The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray and spectacularly failing, slipping into the life of a Venetian police commissioner seems irresistible.

It's not like I disliked the The Lost Time Accidents, yet here I sit incapable of solidifying my opinions of a book that kept me irksomely engaged. John Wray plays with time, history and the inevitable fear of being on the wrong side of both. What if your entire family life pursuit was for naught? 

We open with Waldermar 'Waldy' Tolliver lost outside of time, perplexingly stranded in his eccentric Aunts' New York apartment pondering and successfully leading the readers to question what the lost time accidents are. And it is this that we are pushed back and forth through history, early 20th century Vienna to present day periodically slipping out of the time stream to grapple with the Tolliver's extensive family secrets. It is a complicated plot, a novel thick with beautiful prose that inevitably weighs the reader down. Yet I twisted gladly along, gathering more clues, meeting new members of the Tolliver clan, triumphantly understanding the lost time accidents to suddenly finish the book in complete bafflement.

Inevitably, the book becomes too complicated. Excited to read a novel that spans across decades, taking us into the heart of Vienna, drawing down into the darkness of World War II all the while exploring time itself promised to be the perfect read. Yet it failed somehow, maybe the truths of the universe can only be properly surmised through the purity of mathematics. 

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