Years ago my sister lent me her copy of the book, telling me I’ll love it. It sat on the book shelf forever. I don’t know, it just sounded 1. like a sci-fi book and I can’t stand reading sci-fi and fantasy books, and 2. It sounded like a romance novel and I don’t really do that really either. She added, it mentions things that you will enjoy like the Violent Femmes and Joseph Cornell.
At the beginning of the year, for some reason, I finally picked it up and read the first 20 pages. I thought, ‘yeah, I might enjoy reading this’, so I added it to my 2009 list of things to complete.
I think what made me start reading it was the fact that I picked up the book and read on the back that the author Audrey Niffenegger is a professor at Columbia Book and Paper in Chicago, a place I’ve visited several times. A place I’ve dreamed of attending, a place I’m already on the mailing list for, and a place that has/had halls lined with letterpress type.
Almost immediately, I realized my preconceived notions of this book were incorrect. It was not what it seemed. It’s not really sci-fi, no time machines, I promise.
As I got into the novel, more and more references that hit close to home were revealed and I started thinking that this book might be “my perfect book”. I’ve always said, if there was a perfect movie made just for me, it would have to be Amelie, and now I wonder if a perfect book was made just for me, it might be the Time Traveler’s Wife.
I loved reading about characters I could relate to and who’s interests are so close to my own. Clare, the time traveler’s wife, was a fiber artist and I’ve taken quite a few fiber arts classes in my day. I probably squealed while reading a section where the main character Henry is in the alleyway behind the Metro and can hear the Smoking Popes playing from inside. The Metro is the first concert venue I went to in Chicago as a 15 or 16 year old, and the Smoking Popes are a band I’ve followed far and wide to see around Northern Illinois. Clare has an art show at the Cultural Center, a building close to my own heart and that I almost always stop in while visiting Chicago. The Cultural Center has an Art-o-mat and they always have several art galleries with excellent shows going on absolutely free. On the last day that I was reading there was a tie-in to my city, DeKalb. Clare visits a record store in the city and sees a guy wearing a Seven Dead Arson shirt. Seven Dead Arson was a record store/label downtown DeKalb while I was in high school, and bands would play often in their basement. My brother reminded me yesterday that the owner was Ethan Hastert.
This month a movie of The Time Traveler’s Wife will be appearing in movie theaters across the country. If I had not read the book and only saw the commercials I would probably NEVER see this movie. It looks like your typical Message in a Bottle and The Notebook romance schlock. All of this romance movie comparison started making me wonder, “Is the book just a sappy romance novel, and I just got hoodwinked by the disguise of all the local references to the Field Museum, Brookfield Zoo and Chicago Street names?” When I first started reading the book I would have said emphatically NO. It was a smart novel, with plenty of educated and cultural references as well as an advanced time line. Although I had no problem, I could see that it might be hard to follow with the way the storyline skipped around, following one character and then another at different points in time. Is it just a romance novel, or no? I have to admit the closer I got to the end of the book, the more the idea crept into my head. Perhaps it was seeing too many of the commercials tainting my perspective. I also blame Kelly now too. I was telling some friends that they should read it, and my friend Kelly, who’s opinion I think highly of, said she had already read it and she just seemed so unimpressed with the book. I guess to really decide I’ll have to think more about it. Will this book leave any significance on history and our culture? Does it challenge and make its readers think in ways they might not have thought before? I guess you’ll have to read it to decide for youself. Have you already read it? Let me know what you think. Haha, I feel like I need to join a book club just devoted to this book, lol. I do have to admit, I am excited to see the movie now, just in hopes that the Violent Femmes make an appearance and well, Eric Bana isn’t too hard on the eyes either.
On a completely different note: Tomorrow I will begin my August Challenge of creating a new piece everday (Monday – Friday) and listing it to my shop. Come back to check it out, and if you feel so inspired, please join in and create something new each day as well.