I don’t enjoy time travel stories. They very seldom deal well with the central paradoxes of the concept, and end up falling all over themselves. Yet, somehow, Jack Finney – who it sometimes seems seldom wrote about anything but time travel or alternate universes,* has been grandfathered in – I like almost everything of his I’ve read.
In this book, Finney acknowledges, but essentially doesn’t address, the paradox question. And yet, the book works. I put it down to Finney’s warm, but matter-of-fact, tone and characters. Reading Time and Again this time, I was struck by a mildly Holden Caulfieldish feel to the narration – maybe it’s the somewhat dated (even – or especially? – for the ’70s) treatment of women, despite Finney’s otherwise progressive politics (they’re mostly background).
Fundamentally, though, the novel’s not about any of those things – it’s an adventure and love story. For fans of Manhattan, it’s a carefully researched and illustrated trip into the city’s past. Again not of particular interest to me – but I still really liked the book. It falls apart a bit at the end, when Finney, having seemingly painted himself into a corner, resolves some big complications with a wave of his hand. Yet it’s an appropriately romantic ending, and by and large fits the book.
Not Finney’s best work, but still a fun read and worth trying out.
* Yes, his most famous book was Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But that’s not his fault.