“A Train Through Time” offers the reader an opportunity to “ride along” with an intelligent and reflective narrator as she inventories her life and offers us an insider’s view of some of the most morally challenging moments in our country’s history.
What we are witnessing, then, is a struggle to verbalise experiences that for Li naturally resist verbalisation. She remains the scientist, enjoying the precision of dissection, and this provides the satisfaction required to keep going.
It will be up to booksellers to figure out how to categorize her pastiche of travel writing, memoir, history and literary nonfiction. A reader, flaneusing along the bookshelves, will find in it some of the pleasures of each.
One suspects that practiced writer Brookins knew that interjecting Adam’s mad forays into the mix, far from distracting, would make the final completion of Inkwell Manor seem all that much more heroic --- and she was correct in that assessment.