Thursday, June 21, 2018

Replay by Ken Grimwood (1986)

Not my copy
I owned a paperback copy of Replay that was lost.  I probably bought it around 1987.  I have no idea when I lost it.  The title was as stumper for a while; I knew I had read (and enjoyed?  or at least found memorable) a book about a man who kept dying, was born again, and kept dying on the same day at the same time (as someone with whom I was talking about the book recently said, "Like Groundhog Day" and I said "Yes, sorta..." even though I've never actually seen Groundhog Day).  I also remembered that at some point in the book, he was kept by the government to predict the future, but had changed the future so drastically that he no longer was able to do so (which indeed happened in the book).  I recalled the title (I probably did some sort of Google search), and ordered a copy to read, and (eventually) did so.

Why do some books stick in your head while others disappear so completely that I will often re-read them, unaware until well into the book that I had read it before?  What was it about Replay that resonated in my 17 or 18 year old head?  It's not an incredibly well written book - it's certainly engaging, the plot and premise are unique and thought provoking, the characters are interesting enough.  But the main characters were twice as old as me (at least when they died); they were growing up in the sixties - which to my 17 year old self probably looked more like Happy Days or Back to Future.  Actually, maybe Back to the Future is the key to my liking it back then?  Anyway, it seems like an unlikely book to stick in my head for over 20 years.

I like time travel books - I was reading and enjoying Robert Silverberg at about this same. 

There is some graphic sex in this book, which I'm sure my 17 year old self was amazed by!  Straight sex though. 

The 80s references were all spot on, except the apparently Ken Grimwood though herpes was going to be a pestilence on the magnitude of AIDs.  I do remember in the 80s there was a herpes scare, but it did not become AIDS. 

ReplayReplay by Ken Grimwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What would it be like to experience your own death and wake up in your teenage body over and over? A fun and surprising plot, engaging characters, and a unique premise made Replay one of those books that sat in the far reaches of my head and stuck there for 30 years. I re-read it and enjoyed it. It's not high literature - and certainly not as deep as maybe it wants you to think it is. But it was both great fun, and sort of a walk down memory lane.

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