Sometimes an author comes along who completely encapsulates the feelings of society at a particular time. Matt Haig is that author. He has quickly established himself as a household name for his bestselling Reasons to Stay Alive and has a host of fiction novels which touch on issues relevant to our hectic lives and our mental health.
In How to Stop Time Haig explores why we should try and appreciate the present moment rather than always looking to the past for answers or racing towards our unknown futures. Protagonist of the story, Tom Hazard, understands this more than most having been alive for centuries and having lived many different lives in that time. It may sound unrealistic but somehow the reader is pulled into the world of this enigmatic character and believes in this disease of “anageria” from which he suffers and that causes his prolonged living.
Tom Hazard has suffered many losses and disappointments since his birth in 1581 as those he loves grow old around him while he remains eternally young, and this has led him to consider whether he wants to keep living at all.
The story alternates between stories from the past, featuring famous names such as Captain Cook, William Shakespeare, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the present day where Tom is living his latest life as a History teacher in a city centre comprehensive, and although the dangers are different he encounters them in every era as he learns to appreciate the gift of time and the gift of life.
For those expecting something similar to Reasons to Stay Alive you will have to wait a little longer (Haig’s follow-up to this book, Notes on a Nervous Planet, is due out in July of this year), but How to Stop Time is still heart-warming, still beautifully written, and will still teach you some important lessons about appreciation and being in the moment.