The Lost Time Accidents: A Novel
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In his ambitious and fiercely inventive new novel, The Lost Time Accidents, John Wray takes us from turn-of-the-century Viennese salons buzzing with rumors about Einstein's radical new theory to the death camps of World War Two, from the golden age of postwar pulp science fiction to a startling discovery in a Manhattan apartment packed to the ceiling with artifacts of modern life.
Haunted by a failed love affair and the darkest of family secrets, Waldemar 'Waldy' Tolliver wakes one morning to discover that he has been exiled from the flow of time. The world continues to turn, and Waldy is desperate to find his way back-a journey that forces him to reckon not only with the betrayal at the heart of his doomed romance but also the legacy of his great-grandfather's fatal pursuit of the hidden nature of time itself.
Part madcap adventure, part harrowing family drama, part scientific mystery--and never less than wildly entertaining--The Lost Time Accidents is a bold and epic saga set against the greatest upheavals of the twentieth century.
Mrs. Haven. Before we arrive at the United Church of Synchronology and my own (decidedly upstage) arrival, I need to tell you how my father met my mother, how The Excuse made Orson Card Tolliver into a household name, and how I came to be born in Buffalo instead of Spanish Harlem. The contributing circumstances are as dubious as any others in this history, which is a pretty good argument, as arguments go, for their truth. Whatever else my family might be accused of, rightly or wrongly, no one’s
anywhere, in private and in public, without even considering it surrender. For my part, I partook ravenously, hysterically, certain that my luck was temporary. I was availing myself of some providential oversight, some dimple in the cosmic status quo, and I knew that a correction would be made before too long. What I didn’t suspect, Mrs. Haven—not even in my wildest fits of adolescent mania—was that I would make the correction myself. I can’t say when I first got wind of the Ogilvy
tenacity of will? Aren’t you the last of us, the best of us, the one whose role it was to close the circle? Without you to remember us—to invoke us—how could we continue to exist?” Strange to say, Mrs. Haven, I believed what he said. I felt no anger toward him any longer—he was too diminished, too ruined, and I was too drunk on the answers he was giving. There was no further use in denial: the writing of this narrative has been my reason for existing. Despite my love for you, regardless of the
engaged, however, because at 22:49 EST I rang your buzzer ten times in rapid succession, once for each of my fingers, then waited for catastrophe to strike. Your windows stayed dark and your door remained shut. I should have gone straight home, counting my solemn blessings all the way, but I did no such thing. I pressed the buzzer with both thumbs and shouted your name. It wasn’t defiance that kept me there, or self-destructiveness, or even a basic lack of common sense: the thought of shuffling
limitless possibility: a kind of panicked conceptual goldrush. The year 1903 had been typically revolutionary for the new century, having already yielded the gas turbine, electrostatic fume precipitation, razor blades and reinforced concrete; in Manhattan, a subterranean railway had just been opened from Fourteenth to Forty-Second Streets, and in a picturesque backwater of Switzerland—as far from Manhattan, in virtually every sense, as possible—a patent clerk with delusions of grandeur was