TIME ON MY HANDS by Peter Delacorte


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 A genial but overwrought time-travel novel. Gabriel Prince, an unlucky-in-love travel writer, strikes up a conversation with physicist Jasper Hudnut in an obscure science museum; the two end up trading Ronald Reagan jokes. Gabriel is later summoned to Jasper's Malibu home: It seems that Jasper has a time machine and that he considers Gabriel a good candidate (he loves travel, has few attachments, is a liberal) to go back and manipulate history so that Reagan won't become president. Gabriel touches down in 1938 in the Hudnut family garage. The first person he meets is Lorna, a stunning cousin of Jasper's, whom he badgers into driving him to the racetrack, where, armed with results he's brought from the future, he makes a killing and sparks his date's interest as well. By writing treatments of some of his favorite not-yet-produced movies, he lands a job as a writer at Warner Brothers, where he becomes pals with ``Dutch'' Reagan, an earnest if somewhat silly actor. Gabriel, who's having a pretty delicious time of it with his glamorous girlfriend and his burgeoning movie career, decides to make Dutch such a star that he'll stick with film for life. But various things go awry: Reagan drowns, Lorna breaks up with Gabriel, and some menacing 22nd-century guys show up demanding their vehicle back. Even then, Gabriel can't resist using his machine, on more than one occasion, to go back and rectify matters. But how does one person's time travel affect everyone else? Does history continually rewrite itself to accommodate Gabriel's peripatetic tinkering? How does the time machine work? Delacorte dutifully poses such questions but sidesteps the need for compelling answers. The Hollywood time capsule is mildly amusing, and the characters likable enough, but all Gabriel's rushing around doesn't build to much of anything: Delacorte's third novel (Levantine, 1985, etc.), like the time machine, runs out of fuel. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 11th, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-82651-8
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1997