I can’t believe it’s been ten years since I heard Selden Edwards’ 2008 novel The Little Book reviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air. That review must have made an impressive on me because I’ve been wanting to read this book for years. About a month ago after learning an e-book was finally available for Kindle download through my pubic library’s Overdrive account I helped myself.
One day Wheeler Burden, a middle-aged American wakes up and finds himself in Vienna in the year 1897. How and why he’s been sent back in time is a mystery. Fortunately for him, thanks to the excellent education he received as a young man Burden adapts quickly to the intellectually charged cafe culture of Fin de siècle Vienna and before long finds himself holding court in American-accented German with the city’s young intelligentsia discussing and debating.
But this is no ordinary time travel novel. It took Edwards 30 years to write The Little Book and he threw a heck of a lot into it. He incorporates a ton of backstory for Burden our time traveler like his upbringing in rural California, East Coast prep school adventures, collegiate baseball heroics and post-college rise to rock and roll stardom. While in Vienna he meets several historical figures including Sigmund Freud. Speaking of which, without revealing too much The Little Book is a time travel novel with a Freudian soul.
I’m happy to say after waiting ten years to read The Little Book I wasn’t disappointed. Like many good novels, there’s no shortage of plot twists, some I saw coming and some, well, I didn’t. I know it’s early in the year but there’s a good chance The Little Book ends up making my year-end list of best fiction.