The Tragic Optimist

Book Tour – Time Traveler’s Wife (Chris’s responses)

As I mentioned, Chris read The Time Traveler’s Wife, too so he agreed to participate in the book tour this time around. Here’s his questions and answers. You can hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list of participants . My post on the book is just below this one. You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein.

2. The present and future intersect frequently in the book. Often the result of these minglings is that information about the future is hinted at or revealed early but the actual experiences cannot be altered or prevented. If you could have known about the struggles you’d face on your path to parenthood, would you have wanted to know? Would you go back and warn or prepare yourself, even though you’d be powerless to change the outcome? Why or why not?

Yes, absolutely. When we first started trying to have a child, I wasn’t entirely sure I was ready for it, and after we’d been trying I wasn’t sure it was going to happen. Knowing the timeline would have helped with both of those uncertanties. Knowing that we would ultimately be successful, and being able to share that information with Ann, would have helped a lot. I would have been comfortable with a relatively broad range of results, but not knowing what would happen was extremely frustrating.
3. How do the characters deal with the sense of fate (knowing how the future plays out) vs. free will? Do you think they end up doing things because they already know they happen? Does that take the guesswork out or make it harder to accept?

I don’t think they do deal with it. There’s no real strong evidence that Henry’s right about his inability to change the future, and I spent much of the book yelling at him about it. I think they definitely take the path of least resistance.

6. I love the references to music in this book. They are a convenient way for the author to clearly define the era the narrative is taking place in, but for those of us who can’t time-travel, music and the times in which we listened to it play a powerful role in constructing memory. Which is to say, that it is almost impossible for me to think about our experience of infertility without thinking of “The Waters of March” as performed by Susanne McCorkle. Mel’s written about this in the past. I also think about going with Mel to see Bruce Springsteen concert right when we started TTC and just being so certain that there was a child in-utero at the concert with us. There wasn’t. Or not one that became a viable embryo. For that reason, I hardly ever listen to The Rising, which is the album Bruce was touring behind (The Seeger Sessions however is awesome and on regular rotation). That said, what are the songs you associate with your experience — even if they have nothing to do with IF?

Ben Folds’ “Still Fighting It” came out in 2001, and has always struck a chord with both Ann and I, especially while we were trying to have a baby. The part that struck her was

“Good morning, son
In twenty years from now
Maybe we’ll both sit down and have a few beers
And I can tell you ’bout today
And how I picked you up and everything changed
It was pain
Sunny days and rain
I knew you’d feel the same things

and both of us were struck by the chorus:

Everybody knows
It hurts to grow up
And everybody does
It’s so weird to be back here.
Let me tell you what
The years go on and
We’re still fighting it, we’re still fighting it
Oh, we’re still fighting it, we’re still fighting it

And you’re so much like me
I’m sorry

I was kind of a grumpy kid, and I’m a bit less grumpy now. I keep hoping our children will be more like Ann than like me, because I want them to be happy. But hey, at least I’m not unmoored in time, right?

The first piece of music that Zoe responded to was Michael Franti and Spearhead’s Yell Fire, which I bought right around the time she was born. I think that’s permanently associated with Zoe’s early birth and the days shortly after.


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