Monday, May 7, 2012

The Little Book—Selden Edwards


This is the story of how, through a dislocation in time, my son, Frank Standish Burden III, the famous American rock-and-roll star of the 1970s, found himself in Vienna in the fall of 1897.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

The weaving of historical content with emotional intrigue for our characters was quite engaging. I would liken it to The Alienist, another book which blended history with a fictional story. Well written, and truly a labor of love for the author, having written it over several decades.

In the book, fictional rocker and intellectual Wheeler Burden is somehow transported through time and space from San Francisco in 1988 to Vienna in 1897. He's confused as to his arrival, but is well acquainted with Vienna at the turn of the century, as his mentor the Venerable Haze (Arnauld Esterhazy) had recounted his time there repeatedly during their relationship. He explores Vienna, running into some bright up-and-coming minds, seeking out Freud to discuss his predicament. He also encounters his grandfather, his grandmother, and his father. His father Dilly Burden, a World War II war hero, has similarly been dropped into Vienna in 1897 after having been tortured by the Germans.

Although at times it felt a bit predictable, that was only after having been presented with several surprises. Surprises that were very welcome, as the previous truth was a bit disturbing...You'll understand if you read the book.

Something I have always wondered about books or media on the subject of time travel: logically, how would you be able to cause yourself not to be born? Because if you are not born, then you would not have existed to travel back in time to cause yourself not to be born. Admittedly, I am no expert on time travel, theoretical or otherwise. This book explores that exact issue. At the beginning of their encounter, Dilly tells Wheeler they must be especially careful not to be influential, most certainly with regard to their own family. But by his death, Dilly tells Wheeler that's exactly what they were sent to do: exactly what they did, even though they influenced their future. They influenced it exactly as they were meant to.