While browsing the fiction rack at the local library, I chose a dozen books, but was unable to select among them. Frustrated, I returned all of them to the rack, and picked up a random book, and opened a random page in it. This was the Acknowledgement page, which was very very different from the usual “I thank so-and-so and so-and-so and so-yet-and-so for their untiring support”. I didn’t even read the title of the book as I checked it out at the auto-checkout-kiosk. Dude and kid teased me about the book because the blurb said “Who would you be if you weren’t who you’ve let yourself become”, and my heart sank as they read it out – it sounded pretentiously profound – was it going to be one of those self-help type books?
I reluctantly started reading it, more to convince dude and kid that I had indeed picked up the book after much deliberation (my foot). But once I started reading it, I was hooked. The story is fairly simple. Chris gets drunk one night and wakes up the next morning to find himself 18 years forward, beside a wife that he doesn’t even know. He believes this to be a bizarre case of time travel, and the only friend he confides to believes that Chris simply suffered amnesia brought about by years of alcohol abuse, powered by midlife crisis. Chris is caught in the body of a forty something man, with the soul of the 25 year old that he went to bed drunk as. As he tries to wade through his past, trying to get back to his youth, he thinks of the choices he must have made (the intervening years still being a big gap in time or memory) the choices he would have made as a 25 year old, had not time travel (or amnesia, whatever it was) happened and concludes that…read for yourself.
While the story appears to possess ample scope to pull a Deepak Chopra, the book is, unexpectedly extremely humourous. The profundity does exist, but interspersed with the breezy humour, it is not only bearable, but also intensely interesting. I suspect that the musings can only be unerstood and experienced fully with multiple reads, but even one sitting does make you think. We are all faced with choices to make at every step of life. What if we had made a choice different from what we ended up making. If we could go back, would we make the same choices or different? Acknowledging the answers could get uncomfortable. While the pre-climax drags on a bit and is weak, the alternative ending possible is not particularly satisfying (at least to me), so I guess all that’s well ends well.
Author: Mil Millington
Year of Publication: 2009