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One of the three or four books I’m reading at the moment is Replay by Ken Grimwood.

Dang, this is a cool book!

I haven’t finished Replay yet, but I really like where it’s headed. The basic premise of the book is this: The main character, Jeff, dies of a heart-attack one day in his mid-forties, and wakes up again 25 years earlier, in his college dorm.

His “first”/original life was filled with regrets and imperfections. Pretty much dead ends all around. So after his initial shock Jeff jumps at the opportunity for a do-over. He makes truckloads of money by betting on the Kentucky Derby and investing the winnings in stock from companies he remembers will become successful. Of course there are a few high-impact events he knows about and tries to prevent from happening. (In case someone reads this, I won’t tell which events I’m referring to and whether he succeeds. It’s beside the point anyway.) In the end, he takes care not to end up in the same dead-end-job and unhappy marriage from his previous life, but all of his money doesn’t buy him happiness after all.

So he doesn’t really mind it that much when he dies again, the same week as before, and returns to his college self once more. There are a few regrets from his second old life that he takes care not to repeat, and overall, this life works out pretty well for him. When he dies again, in spite of him taking very good care of himself and even enlisting the help of a medical team to try and prevent another heart-attack from happening, he’s just devastated… pissed, I think, describes it better. This is the point in the story that I’m at right now, and there are a few very interesting plot twists unfolding.

Reading, regardless of the genre, is always a means of transport to another place for me, an opportunity to hide from the world for a few hours and immerse myself in a different reality. My bookshelves are full to the brim with books about time travel, and I’ve pretty much loved every single book I’ve read from that genre. (Technically speaking, it might not be a genre of its own since it contains Science Fiction as well as Romance, Fantasy, and even non-fiction books, but I’ll call it genre for now, for lack of a better word.) My favorite book of all times (at the moment) is Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. What really works for me with TTTW are all of the implications and complications that come with time travel. Meeting someone years before you actually met for the first time, existing in the same city with an earlier or later version of yourself; those kinds of things.

In Replay, there’s a whole different approach to the topic, which is equally fascinating. This particular time travel book is intriguing because of its very distinct “what if”-element.The universe is filled with oodles of alternatives, gazillions of possible outcomes. What if I hadn’t made the choices I have made? How deep an impact on the world have my actions actually had? What would be different if I, and only I, were a better person? Thinking about it now, in that sense, there’s an even more profound message hidden between the pages.

I think this versatility is part of what draws me towards the genre. There are no universal rules about how a writer has to go about all that time travelling jazz. Literary anarchy! But I digress.

I’m loving this book, and I am NOT looking forward to it ending anytime soon.

 

Bookmark check: Woolworth Building, from a bookmark calendar.

 

Update, 23/03/2012: Finished it today, and I  l o v e d  the ending. It’s not the least bit schmaltzy or lame, but optimistic, truly insightful, and, most importantly, leaving me with a profound sense of contentedness. Especially while reading the chapters leading up to the end of the story, I felt like I could never live a life as fully satisfying as the one Jeff was given, because I wouldn’t get the chance to do it over and over again, ever learning, chasing new and undreamed-of experiences, never fearing to miss out on anything. But with the final chapter, Mr. Grimwood managed to write me out of that funk and give me hope and some purpose for the one-shot, linear life that I have been given… this time.

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