Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2019 January 02 • Wednesday

The first book review of the new year will be one of the best books I read last year, one of the most satisfying, well conceived and executed, solidly, assuredly well written, the very definition of great genre fiction, the kind that makes you stop caring about the whole idea of genre and of any kind of fiction's need to do anything but be great on whatever terms are its own.

The book in question, which I would probably recommend to anybody I know personally, is Ken Grimwood's Replay.

The premise isn't too startling, a combination of Peggy Sue Got Married and Groundhog Day. Jeff Winston, at 43 years of age, unfulfilled personally and professionally, dies of a heart attack at his desk at work. And the next thing he knows he's eighteen again, in his college dorm room in 1963, 25 years in the past.

As the title of the book indicates, he then replays his life, but with all memories of the life already lived. As you might imagine, it's easy for him to make a lot of money very quickly, easy for him to do a lot of things.

But what he can't do is stop himself from dying again, in 1988, and returning again to the age of 18, this time with the memories of two adult lives behind him.

This is one of those stories that's almost as much fun to pass on as it is to read, but on the off chance that you might someday read it yourself, I won't spoil it any further.

Suffice it to say that you are in excellent hands with Grimwood here, as he steers this narrative on an impeccably shaped path of twists and turns. I was enjoying it so much by the halfway point that I started to get concerned about the ending. Would he blow it? Would it fly off the rails or off a cliff? It does not. The reader will be brought safely into harbor and disembark regretting only that the journey is over.

The first line is "Jeff Winston was on the phone with his wife when he died".