The paradox of time travel…most confusing to the reader?

If you like reads that progress along a steady, as-things-happen time line of events, then The Female Man is not going to be your favorite book. At first, I found it quite difficult to keep up with all the disjointed, and yet vaguely interconnected stories that bounced around, telling of events happening in different worlds, or at different points in time. On a side note, the author’s comments on pages 6 and 7 about how there are not only different worlds but also different time lines and “strand[s] of probability” (pg 7) made me ask myself if all these snippets of events are happening on the same strand of probability, to which I concluded that they must be, otherwise my head would hurt too much from trying to sort out what belongs where. But, I digress.

To continue, I discovered quickly that in order for the novel to make any sort of sense, at the beginning of each entry I had to read closely and sort out where in the strand of time, and in which world the account was occurring. I suppose this is one technique of the author to force readers to pay attention to what’s going on in the novel and not just mindlessly read – although to me, its also a great technique to persuade people to just put it down after the first three Parts. On the other hand, however, this rather disjointed technique simultaneously is representing how the characters in the novel feel as they are confronted with this “twisted braid” (pg 7) of traveling across probabilities and continua. Certainly, these individuals dealing with time and space travel must be at least as confused as the reader is while reading their accounts. Coming to this conclusion about the author’s choice of style in presenting all her main characters’ stories was a very gravitating moment for me in my reading of these first few chapters.


2 responses to “The paradox of time travel…most confusing to the reader?

  1. One of my favorite forms of storytelling is the disjointed timeline. Really, disjointed anything. It became popular in film after the 1994 release of, “Pulp Fiction.” Now I digress. Really, though, the art of disjointed storytelling was perfect in Joseph Heller’s infamous novel, Catch-22.” No other story is elaborately and anatomically constructed in such a perfect symphony of cacophony. This is of course just my opinion, but we can learn a lot about how Russ wrote her novel from the storyboarding and eight year journey that Heller took to perfect his magnum opus. Why do you think Russ chose the order she did?


  2. One thing that was difficult for me was trying to figure out who exactly was speaking in each section! I really had to look into context clues and whether or not the narrator was speaking in first or third person- even going so far as to figure out that if it was in third person, was the narrator omniscient or was their knowledge limited? It was an interesting, if confusing, read though.


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