Joseph Edwin Haeger reviews Temporal by Troy James Weaver. (Disorder Press)
I saw someone compare Troy James Weaver’s new book, Temporal, to Bret Easton Ellis’ 1985 novel, Less Than Zero. I can see the comparisons with the teenagers seeking party culture and getting lost in the drugs they consume. And there is a lot of pain from characters using one another for selfish gains. The driving forces of both books comes from situations and drama that the characters bring upon themselves. The difference between the two books is how relatable the characters are, though. Ellis wrote his book from a point of entitlement and that attitude carries over to how his characters interact with the world they inhabit. They are spoiled, arrogant, and privileged. Sure, we get an inside look at a world most of us won’t have any experience with and that’s intriguing from an outsider’s perspective, but it’s hard to connect with his characters on a personal level. Weaver, on the other hand, is coming from a more grounded spot. His characters aren’t hunting for drugs because they’re bored with unlimited time and money. They’re looking for a way to self-medicate because the weight of the world is pushing down on them. They are reacting to outside forces influencing the directions of their lives.
Temporal revolves around three best friends, rotating between each of their perspectives. Aaron has catfished another boy and texts him when he’s feeling down or unwanted. Cody’s mom has recently left his dad, so he spends most his time getting as high as possible, relying on his friends to keep him out of trouble. Samantha fought off an advance from Cody’s dad and isn’t sure how to go about explaining her situation to her friends. Through all of this, they are looking for the next party. They are trying to navigate the summer before they all move on from school or their city. Temporal is a book of quiet moments but reveals how important even the mundane can be.
Temporal is a master class in minimalism and allowing the characters in the story to move the plot forward in an organic and satisfying way.
There are dramatic moments in Temporal, but never any that feel sensational. Weaver writes in a matter-of-fact tone that helps keep the story grounded. These are characters I’ve interacted with in my life. Hell, these three are acquaintances of mine who like to sit in basements getting high and listening to music. I know these people. So, when I started reading Temporal, I had an immediate connection to them. These are characters I’m rooting for because they could be making better decisions, but the life laid out in front of them makes it too easy to choose differently. Weaver isn’t writing in a way to condemn or condone their behavior, rather he’s putting down their story without bias and letting the reader decide how to feel about them.
Temporal is a read-in-one-sitting kind of a book. The shifting POV from chapter to chapter could be confusing at times, but Weaver puts in subtle hints so that within the first paragraph you know whose head you’re inside of. Temporal is a master class in minimalism and allowing the characters in the story to move the plot forward in an organic and satisfying way. This is Weaver’s fourth book, and with each one his prose is getting a little tighter and a little sharper. I’ve been a fan from the start, but he’s starting to reveal himself as someone who has longevity in a writing career. Even now, holding Temporal in my lap, I can’t wait to read what he has coming next.