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Time's Arrow, or The Nature of the Offence…

Time's Arrow, or The Nature of the Offence (1991)

by Martin Amis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,190312,962 (3.71)78



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English (29)  French (2)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Tod Friendly dies in his garden in Massachusetts not far from the Alpha and Omega of highways, Route 6. He's not really Tod Friendly though because he is really John Young, but not for long as he changes his name several times before he is born. He dies a doctor and has been for many years, regardless of where or when he lived it all appears that he is a good doctor yet remember we're moving in the reverse so it all looks acceptable. The reader however knows where this is leading and mid century his career has taken him down a different path.
At books conclusion, I'm disheartened. Aka Tod doesn't seem to comprehend what he has done and the punishment involved with it is never realized. If all our good seems bad and all our bad appears good, what does it all mean in the end. This arrow misses the target for me and leaves me befuddled. ( )
  Carmenere | Jun 25, 2015 |
At first I found the time moving backward sort of gimmicky, but then it became more interesting and thought provoking. It also made me slow down and ponder what I was reading. For example, a fat, dumpy druggie goes to the Vietnam war and comes back a clean-cut young man in good shape. Illustrates points that have been done countless times before in a novel way. ( )
  VictoriaNH | Apr 6, 2015 |
Mindbending... ( )
  mapninja | Jul 26, 2014 |
Second reading. Just "brill," to use the Amis argot. Highly recommended. ( )
  William345 | Jun 11, 2014 |
I initially gave this book two stars, but after further thought I landed on three stars. The initial reaction was of extreme disappointment since the book started with so much potential. However, I think this story is a little better once you have time to let it all sink in--but not much better.

Portraying this story from end to beginning was a clever trick which has been done by other authors more successfully. The narrator in this story is simply not the best vehicle for story progression (or regression). The narrator learns more as the story moves along while the main character loses experiences and unwinds--layer after layer.

It's easy to know from the beginning what the secret is, and a lot of the excitement for me was to get past the big secret to see what led up to this awful point in time. Past the secret I expected the main character to be more human and somewhat more developed, which would contrast somewhat with the character's later revelations and trials.

Even after reflecting on everything for a while after finishing, I still do not have any emotion towards the main character. Yes, he did awful things and ended life still having this as a part of him. There just isn't enough contrasting elements to make a better decision. The end of the story shows an very one-dimensional and shallow youth caught-up in the fervor of the times (somewhat) and there is no major transformation. Maybe the point was to unravel the character to a point of non-definition to show how complex we become over time as we add events and interactions to our lives. This thought made me add one star later.

In regards to the narrator, I thought at first it was a non-judgmental observer which would simply tell the story as it was seen. However, very soon, the narrator knows English is being spoke backwards so it has to learn to flip the words around. I expected this much to happen so I didn't judge too harshly.

However, my opinion of the narrator changed quickly when it was disgusted by the physical appearance of Irene later in her life. This reaction could only come from something human as to judge whether another person is physically attractive or not. The narrator expresses difficulty learning German, but backwards English was learned within a few pages.

The dialog running backwards was necessary for conformity in the backwards-running time, but I found it annoying after a while as I had to read back through the dialog myself from end to beginning to compare the beginning to end.

It's also hard to touch on the Holocaust without the book suddenly becoming about the Holocaust itself. If I maintain this story in review as a pure character study of one man's journey through life and not the events in his life, this is not a good journey. If I view the settings and events in addition to the character study, it's still not a good book.

I do plan to re-read this book again at some future point. Hopefully I will pick-up more on a re-read and appreciate this book more. ( )
  deerhorne | Sep 28, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Martin Amisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Klabanová, KateřinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Асланян, АннаTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Voor Sally
First words
What goes around comes around.
Still, I'm powerless, and can do nothing about anything. I can't make myself an exception.

And how can we two be right? It would make so many others wrong.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
original title: Time's Arrow
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679735720, Paperback)

Amis attempts here to write a path into and through the inverted morality of the Nazis: how can a writer tell about something that's fundamentally unspeakable? Amis' solution is a deft literary conceit of narrative inversion. He puts two separate consciousnesses into the person of one man, ex-Nazi doctor Tod T. Friendly. One identity wakes at the moment of Friendly's death and runs backwards in time, like a movie played in reverse, (e.g., factory smokestacks scrub the air clean,) unaware of the terrible past he approaches. The "normal" consciousness runs in time's regular direction, fleeing his ignominious history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:23 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"A novel that seems to have been written with the term 'tour de force' in mind ... Amis's radical rethinking of time ... brings the abomination of the Holocaust home to the jaded late-20th-century reader in a way that few conventional novels could". Village Voice Literary Supplement. "Splendid ... bold ... gripping from start to finish".--Los Angeles Times Book Review.… (more)

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