How To Stop Time is a little treasure of a novel. The premise and thematic explorations are very similar to my favourite time-travel-related movie: About Time. If we had all the time in the world, what would we do? Matt Haig’s response to this question is an interesting one: probably not that much unless we can choose to live.

And, just as it only takes a moment to die, it only takes a moment to live. You just close your eyes and let every futile fear slip away. And then, in this new state, free from fear, you ask yourself: who am I? If I could live without doubt what would I do? If I could be kind without the fear of being fucked over? If I could love without fear of being hurt? If I could taste the sweetness of today without thinking of how I will miss that taste tomorrow? If I could not fear the passing of time and the people it will steal? Yes. What would I do? Who would I care for? What battle would I fight? Which paths would I step down? What joys would I allow myself? What internal mysteries would I solve? How, in short, would I live?

The beauty, I have found, with Matt Haig’s writing is that he is able to explore these aphorisms without being in-your-face or overbearing in anyway. The story firmly takes centre-stage, and the nuggets of wisdom he leaves along the way are a welcome addition as far as I’m concerned. In that way, his stories have an undeniably life-affirming aura about them.

The book is structured in a way that Tom Hazard, our protagonist, jumps back-and-forth from the past to the present making it like listening to an elderly counterpart recounting their life story. It is as much a conversation as it is a book.

Verdict

Highly Recommended. A meandering exploration of life sans the limit of time. What would we do? Where would meaning come from? What is to stop us from breaking down when loved downs inevitably pass on?


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