I am old. That is the first thing to tell you.
–Matt Haig - How to stop time - c.2017
This is only the third book by Haig that I’ve read, but I’ve enjoyed them all and really like his style of writing. But there is something about the way his books are blurbed that makes me go “eh, not today”. I’m not quite sure what it is, because once I start reading I jump on board. I guess maybe it is a sign that he writes “different” books, but in a good way…
How to stop time is the story of Tom Hazard, only that isn’t his real name, because he was born in 1581, and is still alive. At around the age of eleven he started to age extremely slowly, and although he is now considerably older he only looks around 40.
Some would say that is a great condition to have. But think of what it really means, especially in terms of your relationships with other people. How you will stay young while they age and die, and their children age and die.
For many years Tom has been guided by the Albatross Society, a group of fellow slow-aging people headed by Hendrich who believes that the first rule of living long and well is to never fall in love, to never be anchored by anyone, because those anchors disappear and then all you are left with is loss and grief. He also believes that secrecy is the only way the Albatrosses can stay safe. If normal peoples, mayflies as he calls them, find out then there will be accusations of witchcraft, or in modern times there could be scientific research and experiments. Keeping secret, and staying apart, that is the way to stay safe and so that is the way that Hendrich and the Albatross society have enforced on all those they discover.
I really enjoyed this, it felt like a quick and easy read but at the same time it does address some big questions, you know, like what’s the point of life and all that jazz.
I think maybe the ending was a little too abrupt, but I can’t really fault it because the book isnt really about the plot, it is all about the character finding out how to live. Two thumbs up.