Monday, 1 August 2011

Book of the Week - Week Four


It's always nice to have friends that love books as much as you do. Mainly because I'm rather horrible at picking books--I like the randomosity factor now and pick books from the shelves at whim or send the children I nanny out in search of something that catches their eye. When I was at my friend Colin's place the other day, I mentioned this in passing and he gave me the eye, saying "Why don't you just ask me? I love books." Which was a very good point. I went home with an Ikea bag full of his and Terry's favorites.

The first one I read, which I had been excited to check out since Colin mentioned it, was this week's book Einstein's Dreams. Framed within the period of Einstein working on his Theory of Relativity, the novel explores different ideas of how time could work in a society, each short chapter a different idea that floats through the mind of a sleeping genius.

Beyond the stereotypical time conventions ala Benjamin Button or time stopping, this book is filled with interesting scenarios presented in a dreamlike but powerful manner. What if time slowed the higher up you went? What if time slowed the faster you went? What if, every once in a while, time just blinked out for a second? What if you couldn't tell what was a cause and what was a result? 

The style is beautiful, full of imagery and poetically phrased ideas. Each chapter is also maybe three pages long, giving just enough to introduce the idea but let it linger with the reader. Although I did hastily get through this book in one evening, I considered what I should have done was read one of the dreams a day and let myself think about each before moving on. I might have gotten more out of it that way. It was just too interesting to put down, though.

Beyond all of the wonderful things I'm saying about the prose and the ideas inside, I also want to point out that it's only 140 pages of sparse but fascinating prose. It's definitely a quick read. Not something thrilling or page-turning but meditative. I very highly recommend it. 

Oh, and all of my google searching for the cover image informed me that apparently it's also a play? Part of me is intrigued and part of me is worried that it would be very Brechtian in production. I've never really liked epic theater and I could just see this great book becoming pretentious and pompous onstage. Read it instead of watching a bunch of actors try to make you think you like modern art please.

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