A single sentence could render either of us insane

How to Stop Time
by Matt Haig

I love Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive and his essays on mental health, plus he gives good Twitter, but I had put off reading his fiction. Why did I do that? Of course I was going to like it.

The narrator of How to Stop Time, Tom Hazard, was born in 16th century France. Now, in the 21st century, he’s working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive school. He’s not a time traveller, he has a medical condition that makes him age really really slowly. So slowly that he still looks to be in his 40s, not his 400s.

It’s science fiction that wears the science lightly but doesn’t avoid it. An explanation is given, and some details added, but the bulk of the story is about the emotional effect of the condition.

“Forever, Emily Dickinson said, is composed of nows. But how do you inhabit the now you are in? How do you stop the ghosts of all the other nows from getting in? How, in short, do you live?”

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January reading round-up

Correggio by Corrado Ricci, 1896.
Correggio by Corrado Ricci, 1896.

It’s been a pretty eclectic month, reading-wise. There’s been short stories, novels, poetry, work in translation, graphic-novel memoir and more non-fiction of very different kinds. Which I think is an excellent start for a new year.

I did break my book-buying rule very slightly last week, but as Tim bought me tickets to see author Matt Haig as a Christmas present it would have been rude not to buy the book! Haig was a great speaker – warm, funny, intelligent and honest – and I’ve added his older books to my wishlist. I’ve already read the book he was speaking about, Reasons to Stay Alive, and thought it completely brilliant. (Review will follow soon.) And I’ve been to bookshops no less than four times, so only buying one book for myself is frankly amazing, if I do say so myself.

In book-relatedness, I have watched the films of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (great, possibly better than the book, though equally hard to follow to begin with); Push (which is fun if ridiculous and has a comic-book mini-series prequel); and Limitless (pretty good despite the annoying premise and based on the book The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn).

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