So, I finished ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ last night. If you’re thinking to yourself that it took me a long time to do so, the reason is threefold: 1) I am, by nature, a slow reader. 2) Due to the highly emotional nature of the book, I found it impossible to read on public transit, so it was kept for bedroom reading only. 3) In the course of the few weeks I took to read this book, I also knit a hat with earflaps, 1/2 a lace scarf and 1/4 of an alpaca shrug, went out to two late-night parties, watched 4 DVDs worth of Gilmore Girls, and have been catsitting for three different kitties.
Now, I enjoyed this book, but there are elements that have left me craving conversation with others who have read it. When I turned the last page at 10pm last night, tears streaming from my eyes in a salty deluge, I just barely restrained myself from calling
Sure, it was a good sort of crying, the kind that comes of knowing that all good things must come to an end. Not like the Rohinton Mistry, ‘A Fine Balance’ sort of crying that comes of knowing that I am a spoilt capitalist bitch with every opportunity and nearly infinite resources who is doing nothing, nothing, nothing at all to help the millions of impoverished people living in conditions of pain, desperation and want all over the world OMG the caste system sucks.
The best thing I can say about TTW is that it –combined with the positive influence of LibriVox– has rekindled my interest in reading more serious novels. Don’t mistake my meaning here. I love a good dose of chuckles with Bill Bryson, some romantic swoonings with Jude Deveraux, sleuthing with Arthur Conan Doyle and expanding my mind with science fiction from Orson Scott Card. But it’s good to open oneself up to more challenging (read: depressing, awkward, lengthy) works as well, and I’ve been on quite the hiatus since completing my M.A.
I loved the heady mixture of “high culture” and “popular culture” in the novel – extensive quotes from Rilke and citations of opera (love!), mixed with punk rock and drug references (both of which were quite lost on me) – but the general idea of the paradox of modern life rings true. If you have a university education, then you’ve been exposed to the great poets and to opera and other forms of culture that don’t exactly get a lot of air time on radio or the telly. Some of it must call to you. My “high culture” tastes run eerily close to those of Niffenegger’s characters: Rilke, Neruda, Milton, Donne, Byron. Puccini, Wagner, Bartok (I can’t BELIEVE she mentioned Bela Bartok), Albeniz, Mussorgsky, Copland, Bach. But in university I also partook of Baywatch, drinking contests, Sid Meier’s Civilization for the PC, and Beck. I learned to appreciate electronica, trip-hop, drum and bass, lounge and 50s bubblegum pop. I ate (and continue to eat) television for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I became a pop culture fiend with high culture pretentions/secret loves, and I related to the characters of Henry and Clare with a strong immediacy because they were suffering from the same sort of dissociative identity disorder re:culture.
The big question is, where to go from here? I’ve got a collection of recommended books on my desk that have been waiting forlornly for me to get around to them, so who should be first in line?
As for my passion for reading aloud, I’ve now started a LibriVox Wiki page where I’m keeping track of both Solo and Collaborative Projects that I’ve recorded for. If you want to listen to my reading of Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’, click here. Next projects include: ‘The Gerrard Street Mystery’, a Canadian ghost story by Dent; ‘Peter Pan and Wendy’ by Barrie; and ‘Roughing It In the Bush’ by Moodie.