Jack Finney

Although I already read several books a week, some fully and many others partly, I have set myself the task during the Covid-19 crisis to reread a few old favourites. With more enforced home time through isolation, books that I had set aside, meaning to read them properly at a later date, have now come to light.

One such book by Jack Finney (1911-1995) is Time and Again, a time-travel story, which if I remember correctly, was highly recommended by Stephen King. As the author of the Timecrack Adventures series https://williamlongbooks.co.uk/time/, I was in the middle of reading as much as I could about time and space, to be clear in my own mind what kind of story I wanted to convey to my readers.

To be clear, Finney’s book was nothing like what I expected, and couldn’t be further from the genre I was engaged in. I was more familiar with his, perhaps better known, The Body Snatchers, which had been adapted into a film four times, and more likely to being described as in the realm of sci-fi/fantasy.

Time and Again is a unique time-travel story, in that if you have ever visited New York, as Vi and I did a few years ago, it will help if you walked the streets to explore that incredible city. For Finney is heavy on description of the period that his hero, Si Morley, has been sent to visit and report on, by a secretive government agency. The time is 1882 and the book is complete with real images to support how the streets, buildings and people actually looked and dressed at that time.

I enjoyed this story, as Finney took me on a journey, to a New York as it was over a century ago. Today, the street names are the same and occupied by towering skyscrapers, but Finney’s work took me back to a different time. To think that Central Park was once home to farmers raising crops and livestock, in what is now a world-famous destination for tourists!

The reviews of Time and Again have been mostly positive, but one or two have mentioned that it tends to be too ‘wordy’, meaning the lengthy descriptions Finney uses to describe the period. But for me this is the essence of the book, adding to the authenticity of New York as it was in 1882.

W.L.