Tuesday, January 05, 2010

1. Time and Again by Jack Finney

Time and Again is called an illustrated novel.  It's story of travel through time to New York City in the 1890's is both unique and ingenious.  I loved looking at the pictures of the city 90 years before the story takes place (1970).  The hero, Si Morley, is an artist drawing boring little pictures of butter and such at a NY ad agency when he is recruited by a secret government agency to take part in a secret experiment.  He accepts the offer and soon is learning all about customs and culture in the late 19th century.  His instruction also includes learning self-hypnosis.  It is through hypnosis that he is able to actually transport himself, mentally and physically,  back in time.  He has requested to return to a certain time when a letter was posted by an unknown person to his girlfriend's grandfather.  He later committed suicide because of that letter.  On Si's first visit, his girlfriend is actually able to go with him because of her physical contact with him.  Subsequent visits are made alone.  He uses his artistic talents to draw pictures of how the city appeared before towering skyscrapers, automobiles, and pollution.  On one visit he meets a photographer who luckily gives him copies of prints of pictures he has taken with his new camera.  The art and the photos add a wonderful quality to this book.  Here is one of The Dakota, an apartment building still standing in NYC, but taken in 1892 from a point in Central Park.   You can hardly imagine all those tall buildings which eventually surrounded what was once an isolated structure. 
The story does become a bit tiresome with all the detailed information about the past times but there is the storyline about the mysterious letter that adds some real adventure and intrigue right when it is most needed.   Then the are the moral issues that crop up when people start messing with time that added a twist to the story as well.  I liked the book even though it lagged a bit in the middle.  It is a wonderful look at the past and Si Morley is a great character.
Rating:  3.75


  1. Sounds cool! I've never read an illustrated novel before! It's pretty crazy seeing New York without skyscrapers and buildings everywhere!

  2. this book sounds interesting. I like the idea of old photos of NYC.

  3. I really want to read this. It has been on my wish list forever!

  4. This book is my favorite time travel novel ever. I was having such fun with it that I didn't notice any slowed down sections at all. Here's what I said about it when I reviewed The Time Traveler's Wife: