Mark's Reviews > Replay

Replay by Ken Grimwood
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really liked it

Reading this on a train journey where I was travelling to meet up with a friend and was very excited about seeing him could have meant that this book would rather have been like 'musac' going on in the background and ought not to have made any real impression but it did. It was a really clever concept of one man who dies of a heart attack at 43 but then keeps reliving the decades leading up to that moment. And each 're-life' is informed by what he has been and done in all his previous incarnations.

In different lives he seeks to correct or change, remould and remodel who he is and how he works and Grimwood cleverly captures the frustrations and confusions, the anachronistic bombshells or blurted non-sequiturs which must arise. Each time he returns to himself after his 'death' he is older and thus he is not repeating the same life over and over again. Opportunities missed, meetings passed mean that necessarily there is a newness to the life he leads even in amidst the same-old-same-old.

After a while, there is the added frisson of a romance that spans the lives as Jeff encounters another person undergoing the same horror/excitement, (and it is sometimes a joy and sometimes deathly; the groundhog day stuggle writ large) and then the two of them together encounter a third who, instead of seeking ways in which he can improve the lot of the world, uses his re-life for murder and mayhem.

I rally loved the book and the tension and sadness inherent in the plot. There was humour, there is challenge but over-riding it all there is a sense that we cannot remake ourselves differently to how we are, we cannot scale an impossibly high wall just by virtue of having a lot of runs at it. We are who we are and all we can do is begin to find a way to be that person more happily, more honestly, more real-ly.

The denoument was surprisingly undramatic and unresolved but,in the context of the weirdness and unnerving experience that the two main protagonists had had and that we the readers had shared with them over countless lives, it rang true.

A clever concept, well executed, or at least, I thought so.
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Reading Progress

January 20, 2014 – Shelved
Started Reading
October 1, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by Tony (new)

Tony Sounds like a good read. Will put on my list of books to read this year.


message 2: by Miriam (new) - added it

Miriam I knew when I was looking at The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August that the plot sounded too familiar...


Mark It is well worth a read Tone. You can relax at your new French pad and indulge


Mark Oh I haven't encountered that one Miriam, is it worth a peep ?


message 5: by Miriam (new) - added it

Miriam I don't know. I only read the first couple pages in the bookstore and didn't feel sufficiently interested to buy it.


message 6: by ReadingEffigy (new)

ReadingEffigy Sounds really good, I shall put it on my hit list to read.


message 7: by Jim (last edited Aug 24, 2015 12:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Having read 90% of my personal SF library by age 18 (in 1976) I am seriously out-of-date in that genre.

However, I say anyway that this very-personal, faintly-autobiographical, time-travel novel must rate highly in that sub-genre.

My twenty-something self was inspired by the very popular Back to the Future feature. I sat down and recounted history as well as I could for the past thirty years 1985-1955. US Presidents (and "veeps"), losing tickets thereby, Fortune 500 companies, NBA, NFL, and World Series winners. Anything that one could bet on in Las Vagas with uttter certitude starting in 1955.

How much of a stretch is it to figure that Grimwood was so-inspired? He did exactly that with his own life in the novel. He was a freshman at Emory in 1963 and possibly a racing and sports fan (though I don't know if he was in a bad marriage in the late 1980s).

I further speculate that someone on the creative team for the very popular Groundhog Day feature read Replay.

Anyway, you have captured the essence, if not the hubris, of the protagonist as he gets to replay his life many times. Thanks for your review.


Mark Thanks Jim.

I have no doubt you are right about the Groundhog Day creative team lol.

To be honest I have read a very small amount of SF although I suppose John Wyndham would qualify and I love his stuff.


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