Time's Arrow | Martin Amis

historical fiction | novel | literature

First published 1991

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"Things are created in the violence of fire."

Amis's masterpiece, Time's Arrow, cleverly plays with the complexities of time, memory and human nature. From the beginning, we're presented with a narrative that is being told to us in reverse. This daring literary feat, particularly with the emotional and serious subject of the book, leaves you questioning the nature of cause and effect.

The storyteller in the novel is the soul or conscious of Doctor Tod T. Friendly. His life is told to us in reverse, starting in the US, where he has escaped to after the Second World War. The book slowly unpeels the layers of Tod's life, right back to him working as a Nazi doctor in Auschwitz. The reverse timeline brings the victims of the Holocaust back to life, forcing us to confront the stark reality of human cruelty and the consequences of our actions.

My Verdict

I've been an admirer of Martin Amis for decades and this was a re-read. I really admire authors who are not afraid to take risks and play with genres and structures. This book is very powerful, because whether the story is told in linear order or in reverse, the end conclusion you reach is the same: cruelty is part of human nature. A hard recommend if you're enthsiatic about historical fiction and experimental timelines. Time's Arrow is not just a novel - it is an experience that lingers long after the final page is turned.

Posted 13.05.2024

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