On Time and Water by Andri Snær Magnason [8/10]

Missing out on Icelandic author Andri Snær Magnason’s varied works to date is regrettable, for on the evidence of “On Time and Water,” he is a sumptuous, precise stylist. Part memoir, part historical exploration, part climate emergency plea, part climate science exposition, On Time and Water ranges effortlessly over Magnason’s investigations into Finland’s ancient glaciers, indeed the world’s glaciers, as they begin to melt at an accelerating rate; over the notion of past time as experienced by his grandparents; over mythologies, generating his conceit that a holy cow has reached out to him to write the book; and over the notion of future time in the Anthropocene Age. Two interviews with the Dalai Lama offers reflections on mortality and the glacial melting in the Himalayas. Switching effortlessly between journalese and poetic prose, Magnason champions a far richer relationship with the future, out to his great-great-grandchildren, in place of the prevalent short-termism that threatens us all. A most rousing read, On Time and Water should be required reading for young people (we in the older generation seem to be a lost cause).

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