The Man Who Grew Young (TMWGY) is one of Daniel Quinn's latest books. It is unlike all of his other novels, for TMWGY is a comic, or graphic novel. The novel had its beginnings four years after Quinn finished his crowning achievement, Ishmael. However, like he did with Ishmael many times, Quinn found himself at a dead end while writing TMWGY, and put the project on indefinite hold. Then, sometime later, Quinn came into contact with Tim Eldred, an artist/cartoonist, and came up with the idea to make TMWGY into a graphic novel. Eldred accepted the project, and in May of 2001, the book was released.
The basic idea behind the book is that the universe has expanded to its limit, and is now collapsing on itself, "rewinding", back to the beginning of time. So, everything is done in reverse. Instead of gathering precious metals from mines and streams, people put the metals that they have into those places. Instead of people dying, they grow young, and go through a reverse birth process. Instead of "progressing" onward with the construction and organization of "advanced" civilizations, people are resorting to a more tribal, hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The most interesting aspect of all this, to the reader, is that none of the inhabitants of Earth think anything odd about this, it is simply the way that things are - they know no other way of life.
The main character in TMWGY is Adam (religious significance undoubtedly intended) Taylor. Adam is different from everyone else in that he does not grow young, but instead lives through time, watching this universal collapse, experiencing man's evolutionary landmarks in reverse. For example, the book starts out with Adam in a roughly modern time period. As the book progresses, he relives the first time he met his wife, which is actually the last time that he'll see her. Then, as the book further progresses, Adam experiences the un-colonization of America, and the abandonment of weaponry and a written language, until he reaches the beginning of time, and returns to the sea.
Many of Quinn's ideas that appeared in his other books (Ishmael, The Story of B, and My Ishmael) can be found in TMWGY, although with less emphasis on their importance. One such idea is that of man (Adam from Genesis) taking fruit from the tree of the Gods, which granted him the ability to determine what is right, when something is right, and for whom it is right. This also signified man's escape from dependence on the Gods and Mother Nature for survival. Another idea is that of what a "normal" lifestyle is. For the reader will undoubtedly think that everyone in the book is leading a terribly odd and inconvenient life, because it is the exact opposite from the life that we lead today. However, that "opposite" life is the only one that the characters in the book know of, so it is as normal to them as our life is to us.
This book is definitely different from some of Quinn's other books. However, I thought it was a very refreshing, and interesting way for Quinn to convey his messages through a different medium. The book is 98 pages, which means it can be read in about an hour, and it runs for about $20 in most book retailers. I highly recommend The Man Who Grew Young to anyone who has read and enjoyed any of Quinn's other works.
For more information on this book, or other Quinn novels, visit his website at: