Rachel Hirstwood's Reviews > Time's Arrow

Time's Arrow by Martin Amis
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Aug 11, 2011

it was amazing
Read from August 10 to 11, 2011

This is a MAD book. Time is running backwards in the narrator's life. He becomes conscious - after what? I don't know - and watches the whole of someone's life being played out... In reverse.

When he eats, food comes out of his mouth and onto the cutlery. When he drinks, he dribbles into a glass until it isfull. You get the picture? You will do - we get a run through of all bodily functions which is really quite marvellously noticed in its detail.

The life he (the narrator) is watching being played out backwards is no ordinary life though. At first it all seems pretty pedestrian - and this part of the book is essential for getting your head around everything going backwards. And preparing for the next section - about Auschwitz.

This bizarre method of relating the life of a member of the Nazi doctors who are actually killing millions of jews is interpreted as the rescue of said millions. It looks at the morals of what happened in Auschwitz by looking at them played out in reverse. I can only imagine that in some sense those involved in the death camps/concentration camps, must ultimately have been able to square the circle of their actions - somehow.

This was a deeply moving story, as I have said, the backwards motion gave Amis the chance to really pick away at the moral view portrayed here, and he managed to squeeze in plenty of lighthearted moments without feeling insincere or disrespectful. It really made me think.

And, as I discovered after reading the book, it's by Martin, not Kingsley Amis, which no doubt is why I thought it so unusual for KA! :)

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