What is your least favorite of your novels?

This is actually an infrequently asked question. What I’m usually asked is what my favorite is. That always feels like choosing among beloved children—all of them are favorites when seen through one lens or another—but I definitely have an unfavorite, Time and Time Again. It’s a reincarnation story, three interwoven narratives in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The male protagonist remembers his lives—the only way reincarnation interests me—and he changes over time. I wasn’t interested in doing a history-repeats-itself story. While I still like the 18th and 19th-century stories, the 20th-century one needs revision.
I changed editors in the middle of TATA. Ann Patty, my editor for Wilderness departed S & S. Perhaps I should have gone with her. Lisa Weinstein who did Ghost optioned the book for a film, and I noodled with a screenplay that would give me a chance to revise the narrative, but like most film projects, it was not to be, and I moved on to other things. The original title was Remember Me, but Mary Higgins Clark, also with S & S was publishing a novel by that title the same season. I’ve never liked Time and Time Again since it’s much too close to Jack Finney’s classic Time and Again.

4 thoughts on “What is your least favorite of your novels?

  1. I’ve just read my first of your books, “The Watch” and am somewhat confused by the ending.

    I see a number of possibilities:
    1 – You are repudiating all of what Peter has been saying throughout the book by having him ironically stick to some idealistic principle (anarchism) instead of his conscience and humanity, therefore doing harm to those close to him.
    -or-
    2 – Peter is saving the world from Anachee’s tyranny by sacrificing himself and those close to him.
    -or-
    3. You are merely distancing yourself (the author) from Peter’s world viewpoint by demonstrating how ineffective and useless it is.

    Which one is it (or is it something else I didn’t think of)?

    Up until the resolution, I considered this book to be one of the best I’ve read in a long, long time. But the ending has left me terribly confused.

    I would love to hear your view (and please don’t answer with a facile statement like “it’s good to be confused,” etc, if you decide to respond at all)…

    – Jack

  2. Peter believed the only meaningful change in the world must come from the people, certainly not through magical intervention or the fiats of world leaders who know what’s good for us. So he addresses his readers to enact change. (The novel, supposedly, has been written by Peter in prison). If as a reader, you think change is impossible, that nothing of what he’s said throughout the book matters in the real world, then I suppose it’s a hopeless ending. I didn’t see it that way. The far easier ending is happily-ever-after—and I wouldn’t get complaints like this one—but that places the whole story in the category of “wouldn’t it be pretty to think so.” I can make my little storybooks end happily, but what about the real world? As one reader told me this is an anarchist ending. I find it hard to believe Peter would have seen a contradiction between anarchism and his conscience and humanity. Thanks for reading and writing me. I hope you’ll give some of my other books a try. I don’t catch quite as much grief about the endings of the others!

    —Dennis

  3. Personally, Time and Time Again is one of my favorites, but I think that you know why. It’s not often that I can give my friends an insight into my personality when I was what, six years old? 🙂

  4. My stepdaughter speaks. She and her sister Katia bear more than a passing resemblance to the protagonist’s stepdaughters. The wicked stepfather’s revenge, I suppose. Their role in the novel, I find perfectly delightful. There are some plausibility issues, however…

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