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Issue 44 - A stranger back to the future

Whisky Magazine Issue 44
November 2004


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A stranger back to the future

Time's Arrow is a lifetime journey in reverse. And of course,anything so perverse is food and drink to Jefferson Chase

To put the cart before the horse, I must confess I've never been a big fan of Martin Amis, son of Lucky Jim author and Macallan aficionado Kingsley Amis. Despite his polished style and sharp eye for human weakness, I always found Amis fille's proficiency somewhat cloying, as if he were less concerned with writing than with impressing dear old dad.

But I was surprised recently when I got round to reading Amis' 1991 novel Time's Arrow. The book is as gimmicky as the most outlandish cask finish or whisky cocktail, but it works. Time's Arrow is the story of a human life told in reverse – from the moment its hero Tod Friendly aka John Young aka Odilo Unverdorben awakens from death to the final hour before he enters his mother's womb.

It's great fun watching everyday life run backwards. In the Bizzaro universe of Time's Arrow, you get paid for going shopping, sex precedes lively conversation and a nice dinner, and if your lover's husband catches you in flagrante, he just switches off the light, backs out of the room and lets you get on with it.

You find yourself waiting for the booze scene in which drinking makes you sober. Amis doesn't disappoint. Here's Tod/Jack/Odilo before/after an encounter with Wild Turkey.

I got a very bad feeling as we pitched into the bathroom and fumbled for the mouthwash. The we knelt before the altar of the can – and pulled the handle. The bowl filled with its terrible surprises. We've done this once or twice before…The premise for alcohol abu...

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