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Book Review:

"The Time Traveler's Wife"

Yes, I know I promised a review of an actual baseball book, Michael Lewis' "Moneyball", which I read earlier this summer, but I never did get around to writing that, given what was going on with the Cubs, and maybe I will review it eventually. Brief review is that you ought to read it; it gives great insights into the current state of major league baseball management and what makes it tick.

But this isn't about "Moneyball" -- it's about what to do once the season is over. First of all, my house is now an official disaster area, I've been pretty much relegated to my little corner of the basement where the computer is because there are dropcloths and workmen and paint and all kinds of other crap all over the place, and one of these days I figure I'll find myself crouching in a closet because that's the only place left here that isn't being worked on.

What does this have to do with "The Time Traveler's Wife"? Well, nothing. But you get me started on a tangent, and I'll take it... well, maybe it does have to do with this novel, the first from Audrey Niffenegger, a professor at Chicago's Columbia College.

It's about a man who, through no fault of his own, travels through time. He learns that he's possibly a new type of human called a "Chrono-Displaced Person". But it's worse than just finding himself in the "whenever". When he lands, he's usually naked, which means he has to steal clothes and money just to survive, because he never knows how long he's going to be whenever he is.

He winds up meeting a young girl in a field near her home in Michigan, and he watches her grow up. Later (or is it earlier?) he meets her, having no knowledge of this since he'd been traveling to this "past" from his future (trust me, it's easier to follow in the book), they fall in love, and marry.

If you're looking for a happy ending, there is one, but before you get there, the novel is fraught with unhappiness and the feeling of a certain inevitability of things that simply have to happen the way they do. The characters are well drawn, and for me, one of the best things about the novel (which I didn't even know before I bought it) is that it's set in Chicago, and Niffenegger knows the city well, and is able to evoke the feelings and settings of its neighborhoods, parks, downtown and, well, just the feeling of being a Chicagoan. I liked that a lot.

It's an easy read despite jumping around in chronological time (the author always helps you out by prefacing each section with what date it is, and how old the principal characters are at that time, and whose voice each section is being heard from -- either Henry, the time traveling man, or Clare, his wife, narrate alternately). It's a love story, but it both entertains and makes you think. Well worth purchasing, even in hardcover.

AYRating: *** 1/2