When we moved into our present home in June 2000, we had asked the sellers if we could bring our books to the house before the closing. They said sure. They probably imagined a bookshelf. Instead, our boxed books literally filled the living room, floor to ceiling.
Today, 16 years later, our library is bulging at the seams, our desks are overrun, our iPads are crammed. If we moved, we would have to get rid of a lot of books. But many of these books are no longer in print and are not available as e-books. My collection of astrology books, for instance, has some true treasures written by astrologers who brought in new information. Our paranormal collection doesn’t rival that of George Lucas, which we saw at Skywalker Ranch around 1990, but I couldn’t part with a single volume. And then there’s the fiction…
2 chaotic bookshelves among many
“You read it, then pass it on,” says my neighbor, Annette, as she scours the shelves for something good to read.
Well, not exactly. We read it and keep it. Take Replay by Ken Grimwood. Published in 1988, Replay is a classic. Some people call it a time travel novel – and yes, there are elements of that – but it’s also about what happens when we die. The first line:
Jeff Winston was on the phone with his wife when he died.
I’m now reading this novel for the fourth or fifth time. With each read, I learn something new about writing, plot construction, the creation of characters. Think Ground Hog Day, the 1993 movie with Bill Murray, where a man relives the same day over and over again until he gets it right. In a sense, that’s what Replay is about, except that Jeff Winston relives entire decades of his life with the knowledge of a man who lived 25 years plus in the future. And those lives diverge from the life he previously led.
The back cover copy reads: A time travel classic in the tradition of Jack Finney’s Time and Again, Ken Grimwood’s acclaimed novel Replay asks the provocative question: “What if you could live your life over again, knowing the mistakes you’d made before?” Forty-three-year old Jeff Winston gets several chances to do just that.
Finney’s book is also one I’ve read several times. But it isn’t really anything like Grimwood’s Replay. Time and Again is true time travel, and illustrated! Replay is metaphysial time travel. Once you read it, you’ll never look at death in the same way again.
Grimwood died in 2003, at the age of 58. He was working on a sequel of Replay. When he died, did he enter the replay?