Saturday, January 7, 2012

How to settle issues with your father

It really is true. One shouldn't pin very high expectations on a book simply because other people have been raving about it. Much as I wanted to get myself really into Charles Yu's How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, I just couldn't. Several things wouldn't let me.

There's the science aspect of it, for one. Several pages in the book had my eyes glazing over. Now, I majored in science back in college and I consider myself pretty much knowledgeable on different concepts. But the book's treatment of quantum physics, the mechanics of time travel, the different dimensions in space-time gave me headaches.

Another thing would be my preconceived ideas. I was hoping for action. HTLSIASFU didn't have as much. In fact, I would consider the book as melodramatic overall, focusing instead on how the main character, Charles Yu, settles long unresolved issues with his father. His father has been missing, you see. And Charles, now a time travel technician, thinks that finding his father lies in a book entitled How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.

The writing is very beautiful though. Yu's prose is very vivid and fluid. He effectively captures the thinking of one person who seems to be living his life in limbo, trapped in different physical planes altogether. Yu's message becomes clear as the reader goes through the novel. You can't change your past, no matter how f****d up it turned out to be, so you might as well consider the present.
...Step out into the world of time and risk and loss again. Move forward, into the empty plane. Find the book you wrote, and read it until the end, but don't turn the last page yet, keep stalling, see how long you can keep expanding the infinitely expandable moment. Enjoy the elastic present, which can accommodate as little or as much as you want to put in there. Stretch it out, live inside of it. [page 233]
Read this book if:
  1. You have unsettled issues with your father.
  2. You're comfortable with terms such as "chronodiegetic space" in a novel.
  3. You really think that living in a science fictional universe would be the best option for you, considering how messed up the real universe can sometimes be.


ןıuǝ oɟ ɟןıƃɥʇ said...

its funny. i'm baffled when people's eyes glaze over when i'm talking but i gain a better appreciation when i read real specialists and my eyes glaze over. haha

Peter S. said...