The library didn’t have the book I wanted, so I picked up How To Stop Time instead. I started reading a Matt Haig novel before, The Humans, but for some reason it didn’t work for me. I can’t remember what it was as it was so long ago, but I’m glad I gave the author another try.
The story's about a man named Tom who has a condition which means he doesn’t age like the rest of us. His ageing process is very slow, taking hundreds of years and as such he’s been alive for a very long time.
The novel works in alternate chapters, some set in the past, like the time period when he knew Shakespeare and met his first and only love, Rose. Other chapters are set in the present, where he’s living a new life as a history teacher in London. As you would have probably gathered Tom is an excellent history teacher as he’s actually witnessed the events he teaches his students about, although he can’t tell them that.
There’s another story which weaves it’s way through the narrative and that is Tom searching for his long lost daughter who also has his condition and ages at a slower rate. Mixed up with this is a society which deals with his kind and organises for them to take on a new identity every eight years when suspicions begin to mount concerning their lack of ageing.
The story was good fun, being a fantasy-laced contemporary. Mostly it was plot-driven which is where it fell a little flat for me. I’m the kind-of reader who loves a good dose of character with my plot and I felt this was a bit lacking. While we got to know extensively about Tom’s life, he remained a bit of an enigma for me and as such wasn’t fully formed. There was also a good bit more telling than showing for my taste, as well.
How To Stop Time was a love story at its core, with a solid understanding of the human condition. While I did enjoy it, all the elements weren’t there for me. Saying that, I can definitely see myself reading more from this author as his stories have a fun-factor which I really enjoyed.
Can I book about a modern day island on the American east coast (Nantucket) going back in time be boring? Yes. And for an isolated island with minimal supplies there is a lot of traveling going on - to Europe, to the Caribbean, South America. I know the author didn't want to bog down the book with descriptions of days and days of travel, but sometimes it seemed they were one day in Nantucket and then after waiting a week (no real sense of urgency - just we're going as fast as we can?!), it would take them about a day or so to get to the baddies.
And I'm sick of reading that every battle between native and more civilized forces being compared to the Anglo-Zulu War. Catherine Asaro did a much better job with a comparison of this conflict. The "final" battle was confusing because I kept thinking, "Are they with the Eagle people or the Wolf people?"
Anyway, I didn't enjoy this book much at all.
PARDON MY GHOULISH LAUGHER is a collection of mystery stories from the detective pulps. Most of these tales were originally written back in the 1940's. What fun!
All of these stories have the possibility of being supernatural tales, but all end up having a perfectly reasonable explanation. What's fun is the getting to the explanation! I enjoyed every single tale here, but I think my favorites were:
TWICE KILLED CORPSE- which had a nice little twist as well as a hero that wanted to be a detective.
PARDON MY GHOULISH LAUGHTER- which had a lead character that reminded me of Jimmy Olsen. (I'm showing my age here!)
DEATH IS A WHITE RABBIT- which was a strange little tale with a remote hint of Dr. Moreau and his experiments. These things never go well.
This book was a boatload of fun and reminded me of my pre-teen and early teen years when I read these types of collections. The old Ellery Queen's and Alfred Hitchcock's were always a source of entertainment, but somehow I missed Frederic Brown back then. With this collection and NIGHTMARES AND GEEZENSTACKS, (which I listened to last year), Mr. Brown has made made my list of memorable and witty short story writers. I'll be on the lookout for anything else of his I can get my hands on.
*I received this book as a gift from my friend Tigus, at Booklikes, with no strings attached. Thank you once again, sir! *