How to Stop Time
By: Matt Haig
“Everything is going to be all right. Or, if not, everything is going to be, so let’s not worry.”
Tom is a time traveler of sorts. But not one that we’re used to. He’s simply been alive so long (near 500 years) that time has wrapped around him. He’s stagnating. He can sit in a teacher’s lounge in modern day London and remember having a conversation with Scott and Zelda in 1920’s Paris.
He worked for Shakespeare. He knew Captain Cook. There’s little new for him, if anything.
The only thing keeping him alive is the hope of finding his daughter.
“Nothing fixes a thing so firmly in the memory as the wish to forget it.”
Like a lot of people the idea of living forever seems a good one on the surface. One most people would jump at- but Tom’s story shows that just like living a normal amount of time you can become bogged down with the memories. You can stop living. You can forget what it’s like to be alive in the grief and memory of the past.
The book jumps back and forth between his past (with a whole lot of fun name-dropping) and his present. He’s stuck under the thumb of a society trying to help keep him safe but we get the impression fairly quickly mostly using him. Not trying to help at all. If he tries to tell people the truth he gets locked up in a madhouse and he’s had no luck finding his daughter in oh, about four-hundred years.
I actually preferred the flashbacks. Tom’s current life was tinged with such melancholy- well-written but nonetheless. There’s some really brutal witchcraft stuff when the village he grows up in catches on to the fact that he’s not aging. It doesn’t end well. For the women in his life anyway. Shakespeare and the theater stuff is a lot of fun and while it doesn’t take up much time it does a good job of putting you at the Globe back in the day.
I thought the ending concerning his daughter was obvious but then again I think it was supposed to be. The book appeals to be personally in terms of time and mortality and that endless fight to actual live. Overall I think that’s the best part- the message of living in the moment no matter how long you get and no matter the pain it might cost.
“And, just as it only takes a moment to die, it only takes a moment to live. You close your eyes and let every futile fear slip away…”
I underlined a lot of quotes in this book. 🙂
The title is also paraphrasing a character from the book.
Recommend: Yes. Especially for fans of the more melancholy Doctor Who episodes. Would also recommend to people who are trying to live in the moment or into mindfulness- that sort of thing.