It was terrible, pure and total shite- a middle aged woman’s wet dream, with a little bit of kiddie porn wish fulfillment thrown in for the dirty old men. It is, in other words, a "two-quadrant" book.
When my girlfriend, Kelly, told me she wanted to see the film version last night, I told her that I'd already read the book, back when I was reading bestsellers (I was trying to write one of my own), and that the book was terrible, pure and total shite. I then proceeded to explain to her why I felt this way.
Basically, it’s about a dirty old man with a ridiculous and illogical condition that causes him to involuntarily travel through time. At 41, he starts meeting a 6 year old girl in the meadow outside her home in Michigan. She brings him clothes because he’s naked when he travels through time. Anyway, he knows that in the future when he’s 30 and she’s 22 they’re going to meet, fall in love, and get married. So he starts manipulating her into becoming his perfect woman. I won’t bore you with all the details (which are all boring), but basically when he’s something like 42 and it’s her 18th birthday he pops her cherry and tells her that they’ll meet again in the future, in Chicago, but he won’t tell her anything else because he doesn’t want to spoil it and it’s already happened anyway so there’s nothing they can do about it. So she saves herself for him, since they were meant to be together (he is the perfect guy after all, since he waited until her 18th birthday to screw her – how romantic!) and so fi
nally she meets him when she’s 22 and he’s 30, she pushes herself on him, they fall in love, etc. As an "earnest" love story, it makes absolutely no sense. I mean seriously, if a man had written this do you think the reviews would have been as positive as they were?
I kept reading it because I was thinking, “She’s got to do something to turn this around, like it’s all in this character’s head, or she’s going to somehow subtly point out how this girl is being abused by this time-traveling man” but NO, she doesn’t do that at all. She’s serious! And it’s incredibly badly written. Supposedly it’s narrated by the two main protagonists at different points in their lives, but the 6 year old Clare talks exactly like the 36 year old Henry. She has a cheat to tell you who’s talking, otherwise you wouldn’t know.
[BOOK SPOILER ALERT]
Oh, and the way Henry dies is ludicrous - he gets fros
tbite, and his feet are amputated! If you were an involuntary time traveler and you popped around naked in the middle of winter, wouldn't you move somewhere sunnier than Chicago?
[END BOOK SPOILER ALERT]
And it’s full of the author’s snobby opinions on Punk Rock, Heidegger, Van Gogh, and most especially Rainier Maria Rilke. And she uses the Stephen Mitchell translation when quoting him! There’s nothing worse than a snob with bad taste. Oh, and the non-white characters (servants and landlords) are treated condescendingly.
Anyway, Kelly was unmoved by criticisms of the book, and insisted she wanted to see something romantic, "a good, old-fashioned chick flick" for a Friday night.
The movie was somehow worse than the
book, even though it only took a couple of hours to get through. They basically maintained the spirit of the book, which of course was too bad, and only slightly altered the ending.
[MOVIE SPOILER ALERT]
In the movie, it's a hunting accident that does in the time-traveler. He's mistaken for a deer. This makes slightly more sense, I guess, but even still- he could have yelled out "I'm a human, don't shoot!" or something. And, he could have moved to Florida, or Texas, or Arizona, or New Mexico, or California. Some place where, if he's time-traveling without clothes, he wouldn't get too cold.
[END MOVIE SPOILER ALERT]
After the movie, Kelly apologized for forcing me to sit through it, and said she owed me one. She'd go see any movie I wanted, without complaining. I pointed out that, while I did sit through the movie with her, I also complained- not during the movie. Somehow, I managed to keep my mouth closed about how shamelessly manipulative the whole enterprise was. But before, as I've already related in this blog post.
"That's true," she said. Then she told me she would go with me to see any movie I wanted, would complain about it, then sit quietly in the theater and sulk.
I told her that I was happy to have met her when I did, because she was perfect. And I didn't even have to meet her when she was a little girl and "raise her" to be my perfect mate. She just grew up that way.