This Metafilter thread on watching movies backwards
(possibly inspired, and certainly presaged, by the war movie Billy Pilgrim watches backwards in Slaughterhouse-Five
) made reference to Time's Arrow
by Martin Amis. Since it happened to be sitting in my book queue, I bumped it to the front and read it this afternoon.
I'm hard-pressed to think of a better backwards novel. Most backwards-told novels suffer from the Merlin problem, which is this: individual scenes are narrated in the usual direction, and just the order of scenes is reversed. Not so in Time's Arrow
. Here the entire book is told backwards from start to finish. Dialogue is in reverse order, relationships start out with shouting and crying and end with coy flirtation, food flies out of your mouth and onto the plate, etc, etc, etc.
The point-of-view character is a new and innocent soul that is stuffed into the body of Dr. Tod T. Friendly at his moment of death and forced to watch impotently as Tod's life races by in reverse order.
I won't give away anything else about the plot; I'll just say that the backwards narration isn't arbitrary. The book is this way for a reason. To find out why you'll have to read it.
The other Amis book I read, Einstein's Monsters
, was also excellent. Why isn't Amis a bigger deal on this side of the Pond?