How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe - Charles Yu
I used to wonder why fiction didn't often use metaphors drawn from modern physics. Mostly stuck to at best the classical concepts, or even totally outdated "folk" theories. Well, now I have found a book of 21st-century metaphors; and, not surprisingly, reading it is hard work. (There is one beautiful and comprehensible Newtonian passage: the parabolic trajectory of a life, with weightlessness at the highest point.) If I hadn't just finished The Future of Spacetime I would have struggled even more.

What I can make of this novel is, I think, a success. It is a time travel story, but its time travel is "chronodiegesis", that is the subjective narration of time, that is the memory of the past, the perception of the present, the fear of the future. Its narrator, Charles Yu, has a need for "time traveling" because his present is dominated by not being able to cope with painful memories of the past -- he may not be able to change the past, but he sure needs to change his current attitude. That is simply said, but unpacked at length, it makes a novel with many beautiful moments and a high level of difficulty for the reader. It is an entirely interior, subjective novel: in older works, it would be called a "psychodrama", where characters that the protagonist interacts with are imaginary beings of his own creation; here, they are computer programs created by the "time machine", that is, the mind. I wonder why the author chose to name his protagonist after himself: is he really processing his own issues in fictional form? That would be so personal as to be rather uncomfortable for me.

However, on another less personal level, this is also a work of philosophy and narratology. I am not well equipped to consider those subjects; I would need to read the book again to tease out the ideas. Please consult a philosopher if you want an opinion on whether anything coherent was said in this novel. I'm not at all sure it was, but I did enjoy the reading experience.