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  • Writer's pictureCharles Arrowsmith

Review: Flux by Jinwoo Chong (Washington Post)


In the Back to the Future movie trilogy, Marty McFly travels through time with the help of a Y-shaped gizmo called the flux capacitor. Its function receives only a cursory explanation, but it doesn’t really matter how it works; the movie is less about the mechanics of time travel than the relationship between the past and the present, and the effect we can have on shaping our own destiny. In a conscious echo of the movies, Jinwoo Chong’s ambitious debut novel, “Flux,” also uses a time-traveling premise as a kind of MacGuffin — here, in the service of the author’s interests in memory, nostalgia and the legacy of trauma.


In the first part of the novel, Chong introduces us to three protagonists from different time periods. When we meet Brandon, in the present day, he’s working at a trendy magazine and sleeping with his boss. Twenty-five pages later, he’s lost his job and fallen down an elevator shaft. Blue, some 20 years in the future, is prepping for a TV interview during which he’ll reveal what really happened (“fraud, extortion, later murder”) at a supernova tech company he once worked at. Meanwhile, in the past, a boy named Bo is dealing with the death of his mother, a tragedy for which he blames himself.


For the review in full, visit The Washington Post.

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