Sunday, August 28, 2016

Review: "Einstein's Dreams" by Alan Lightman

Reading Alan Lightman’s slim novel Einstein’s Dreams is like eating a few spoonfuls of pure cake icing. It is nothing but sugar and fat, bug you are thankful it is not the whole tub you have to consume. I don’t think I have come across a more saccharine and rather puerile book to be honest with you. It’s very well written and very imaginative with the places it goes and how rich the detail is. I just wish that for this book, Lightman could have used his talents in a better way, so instead of a challenging look at the nature of time and the intricacy of the world, we are left with someone rather maudlin, simple and way to easy to read. While I try to steer clear of making comparisons to book’s I have not read, I assume reading this book is a lot like reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: a sort of dime-store guide to spirituality for those who’d rather feel than think. The small, 140-page book uses as its framing device conversations between a young Einstein and his friend Michele Besso sometime in 1905. But the bulk of the book is centered on dreams Einstein has about various worlds where time is perceived differently. Some of the differences are concrete, such as one world where people’s lifespan is simply one day, and most others are more abstract, where time is simply a series of pictures, and people can be aware of many different time lines based on the decisions they make. There are characters in each dream, but they are one-dimensional and not as memorable as the conceptions of time Lightman creates. Some people may find something in this book, perhaps genius or even solace for some, but for me, it was a mercifully short exercise in very shallow philosophy.

Rating: 3/5

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