What if you don't have time to spend? In order to answer this seemingly simple question, Odell took a deep dive into the fundamental structure of our society and found that the clock we live by was built for profit, not people. This is why our lives, even in leisure, have come to seem like a series of moments to be bought, sold, and processed ever more efficiently. Odell shows us how our painful relationship to time is inextricably connected not only to persisting social inequities but to the climate crisis, existential dread, and a lethal fatalism.
Paradigm-destroying ... Grand, eclectic, wide-ranging ... Odell’s undertaking is massive and ambitious ... Sometimes, in her race to gather all of this information together, Odell elides narrative inconveniences or leaves things unexplained ... But singling out any specific moment in this book feels like a betrayal of the whole. The narrative logic is purposefully meandering and elliptical ... She doesn’t provide answers or policies for how; that’s not her project. But she has opened up a space between the present and the future in which it might be possible.
A subtle, itinerant study of time ... There are gaps: Odell doesn’t look at ideas of time in antiquity, which, through miracles of preservation and transmission, survived like so many fragments of ancient seafloor. Nor is religion...considered ... Nonetheless a joy.
In Saving Time, with moss as muse, Odell deepens her approach and amplifies her pitch ... Odell approaches these matters with acute sensitivity and feeling. And yet a larger question persists. Why does a book so concerned with the looming issues of our day, and possessed of such an urgent authorial voice, feel like such a time sink? ... Odell marches us along, gesturing to choppy outlines of the books she consults to piece together the story. Her own thinking feels curiously muted ... Her collages produce not surprise or poignance but a sense of cutting and pasting, of breathless summary ... Why is this book about time in such a hurry? ... Perhaps her hope is to rush past the fact that so many of her observations are commonplaces ... As I read, I told myself that some hidden seams would surely be discovered, fresh evidence brought forth, complacencies unravelled ... Instead, we are led down a path of truisms to a well-padded account of how the capitalist logic of increase squeezes dignity from our days ... A book of hectic history and dutiful structural analysis, every sentence turtled against the arrows of social critique ... It is not an unusual experience to feel that one’s time has been misused by a book, but it is novel, and particularly vexing, to feel that one’s time has been misused by a passionate denunciation of the misuse of time ... Very often, problems of style and pacing are actually problems of thinking, and here is where one difficulty of Saving Time lies. Odell is working with ideas that demand careful, persuasive articulation ... Instead, we receive a relentless synthesis of other people’s work ... The absence of original thought is striking, suggestive.