The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray
Wray’s latest novel is a strange fantasy about time, and four generations of a peculiar family tangled up in a lost secret. From 1903 through the early twenty first century, the family struggles with world events and their own private struggles with each other and the peculiar United Church of Synchronology. Wray pleasantly evokes historical events, scientific theory, and science fiction, without troubling to be particularly factual.
The Toula family are an interesting collection of weirdos, though we develop a certain sympathy for the poor unhappy, self-destructive souls. Wray unwinds the tale in a complicated interlaced narrative that keeps us following along from start to end.
If there is a message or meaning in all this, I did not readily discern it. Such allusions as I caught were mundane and/or wrong. The underlying conceit (something about the nature of time) isn’t really explained very well and, frankly, makes no sense at all. Because of that, the characters and events are pretty inscrutable, too, and I can’t really fathom the motivation for any of this.
Nevertheless, the story is interesting to read, and compelling enough to keep reading. Wray writes well, making the fevered insanity almost understandable. Almost.
- John Wray, The Lost Time Accidents, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016.
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