by Ken Grimwood


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Jeff Winston, forty-three, didn't know he was a replayer until he died and woke up twenty-five years younger in his college dorm room; he lived another life. And died again. And lived again and died again -- in a continuous twenty-five-year cycle -- each time starting from scratch at the age of eighteen to reclaim lost loves, remedy past mistakes, or make a fortune in the stock market. A novel of gripping adventure, romance, and fascinating speculation on the nature of time, Replay asks the question: "What if you could live your life over again?"

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780877957812
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/01/1987
Pages: 311

About the Author

Ken Grimwood lives in southern California.

Read an Excerpt


By Ken Grimwood

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Ken Grimwood
All right reserved.

ISBN: 068816112X

Chapter One

Jeff Winston was on the phone with his wife when he died.

"We need -- " she'd said, and he never heard her say just what it was they needed, because something heavy seemed to slam against his chest, crushing the breath out of him. The phone fell from his hand and cracked the glass paperweight on his desk.

Just the week before, she'd said something similar, had said, "Do you know what we need, Jeff?" and there'd been a pause -- not infinite, not final, like this mortal pause, but a palpable interim nonetheless. He'd been sitting at the kitchen table, in what Linda liked to call the "breakfast nook," although it wasn't really a separate space at all, just a little formica table with two chairs placed awkwardly between the left side of the refrigerator and the front of the clothes drier. Linda had been chopping onions at the counter when she said it, and maybe the tears at the corner of her eyes were what had set him thinking, had lent her question more import than she'd intended.

"Do you know what we need, Jeff?"

And he was supposed to say, "What's that, hon?" was supposed to say it distractedly and without interest as he read Hugh Sidey's column about the presidency in Time. But Jeff wasn't distracted; he didn't give a damn about Sidey'sramblings. He was in fact more focused and aware than he had been in a long, long time. So he didn't say anything at all for several moments; he just stared at the false tears in Linda's eyes and thought about the things they needed, he and she.

They needed to get away, for starters, needed to get on a plane going someplace warm and lush -- Jamaica, perhaps, or Barbados. They hadn't had a real vacation since that long-planned but somehow disappointing tour of Europe five years ago. Jeff didn't count their annual Florida trips to see his parents in Orlando and Linda's family in Boca Raton; those were visits to an ever-receding past, nothing more. No, what they needed was a week, a month, on some decadently foreign island: making love on endless empty beaches, and at night the sound of reggae music in the air like the smell of hot red flowers.

A decent house would be nice, too, maybe one of those stately old homes on Upper Mountain Road in Montclair that they'd driven past so many wistful Sundays. Or a place in White Plains, a twelve-room Tudor on Ridgeway Avenue near the golf courses. Not that he'd want to take up golf; it just seemed that all those lazy expanses of green, with names like Maple Moor and Westchester Hills, would make for more pleasant surroundings than did the on ramps to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the glide path into LaGuardia.

They also needed a child, though Linda probably felt that lack more urgently than he. Jeff always pictured their never-born child as being eight years old, having skipped all the demands of infancy and not yet having reached the torments of puberty. A good kid, not overly cute or precocious. Boy, girl, it didn't matter; just a child, her child and his, who'd ask funny questions and sit too close to the TV set and show the spark of his or her own developing individuality.

There'd be no child, though; they'd known that was impossible for years, since Linda had gone through the ectopic pregnancy in 1975. And there wouldn't be any house in Montclair or White Plains, either; Jeff's position as news director of New York's WFYI all-news radio sounded more prestigious, more lucrative, than it actually was. Maybe he'd still make the jump to television; but at forty-three, that was growing increasingly unlikely.

We need, we need... to talk, he thought. To look each other straight in the eye and just say: It didn't work. None of it, not the romance or the passion or the glorious plans. It all went flat, and there's nobody to blame. That's simply the way it happened.

But of course they'd never do that. That was the main part of the failure, the fact that they seldom spoke of deeper needs, never broached the tearing sense of incompletion that stood always between them.

Linda wiped a meaningless, onion-induced tear away with the back of her hand. "Did you hear me, Jeff?"

"Yes. I heard you."

"What we need," she said, looking in his direction but not quite at him, "is a new shower curtain."

In all likelihood, that was the level of need she'd been about to express over the phone before he began to die. " -- a dozen eggs," her sentence probably would have ended, or " -- a box of coffee filters."

But why was he thinking all this? he wondered. He was dying, for Christ's sake; shouldn't his final thoughts be of something deeper, more philosophical? Or maybe a fast-speed replay of the highlights of his life, forty-three years on Betascan. That was what people went through when they drowned, wasn't it?

This felt like drowning, he thought as the expanded seconds passed: the awful pressure, the hopeless struggle for breath, the sticky wetness that soaked his body, as salt sweat streamed down his forehead and stung his eyes.

Drowning. Dying. No, shit, no, that was an unreal word, applicable to flowers or pets or other people. Old people, sick people. Unlucky people.

His face dropped to the desk, right cheek pressing flat against the file folder he'd been about to study when Linda called. The crack in the paperweight was cavernous before his one open eye: a split in the world itself, a jagged mirror of the ripping agony inside him. Through the broken glass he could see the glowing red numerals on the digital clock atop his bookshelf:

1:06 PM Oct 18 88

And then there was nothing more to avoid thinking about, because the process of thought had ceased.


Excerpted from Replay by Ken Grimwood Copyright © 2006 by Ken Grimwood. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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"Dufris's skilled delivery of the fantasy of reliving one's life has just the right tone of wise hindsight." —-AudioFile

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Replay 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 159 reviews.
Maria_of_amor More than 1 year ago
On the third week of October 1988, journalist Jeff Winston dies of a heart attack in the middle of a droning conversation with his wife and "wakes up" alive at age 19, back in his old college dorm room in 1963. He realizes he must now replay the next 25 years of his life. A few smart sporting wagers and 12 million dollars later, Jeff thinks he is set for life. Until he dies again on the same third week in October in 1988. And again and again and again. As Jeff replays his lives, he encounters his wife Linda in many forms and many different ways. Jeff uses his journalist's knowledge of major newsworthy events to make slight alterations in his favor and plays a major role in the Kennedy assassination, with surprising results. Careless conversation where Jeff inadvertently tells the future are giggle-inducing while the birth of Jeff's daughter inspires Jeff lives out all the various permutations that readers would expect: successful financial decisions, sexual abandon and drug use, isolation in the woods, scientific exploration, meditation. Until one day in one of his lives, he meets Pamela, another replayer. While this is a fantastical (yet philosophical) thriller, it is also a romance, as Jeff experiences the joy of being with someone who truly understands him. Jeff and Pamela enjoy the rest of their lives together, until that same third week in October in 1988. They find each other again, though at different points and with different memories. Why are they replaying? Will it end? What's the point of it all? Replay is for anyone who has wondered about our purpose, our paths, our choices as humans. But it's also great fiction. Easy to read, well-written and perfect for a book club as it will spark hours of "what if" conversation. Next to K S Michaels, this is on my top 10 shelf.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even though I knew the twists and turns of the plot, the narrative continued to hold me. I had loaned the book to a close female friend in recent years who had commented that it had a lot of sex in it (which somewhat turned her off, as it was a very male-centric view of sex), which I hadn't remembered, but which I was aware of this time through. It definitely was male-centric, as it is Winston who provides the internal awareness throughout the first half of the book, and in one of his many replays he goes through a very hedonistic phase. Now that I'm over forty, Winston's actions actually seem more realistic than when I read it in my twenties. There's a reason for the June-December romance in our culture, where women are attracted by older men for their money--Winston, in his replays, is always able to make enough quick bets on sporting events to have a sizable bank account in his youth, which enables him to attract such women earlier in his life. What is revealing here is not that Winston seeks out sex in such a way, but that Grimwood makes it a point that such a lifestyle is as hollow as his first replay, where he simply accumulated a vast amount of wealth and prestige. When Winston discovers that there is someone else in the world who is replaying like him, he seeks her out and over time they become many-lives-long soul partners because of their shared experience.

Grimwood also was somewhat prescient about the U.S., terrorism, and how the latter could easily turn the former into a fascist state, by giving us one replay where Winston and Pam actually reveal themselves to the world, only to be co-opted by the government who disbelieves in their story, but keeps them under lock and key, including torture techniques, to get them to reveal the "secrets" of the world. Even though Jeff and Pam provide details that remove certain strong-man governments from power (in the 80s, when this was written, Grimwood's target was Qaddafi in Libya), new terrorist groups form based on the covert U.S. actions, thus starting an overall change in the timeline that Jeff and Pam are unable to provide any details for because it is unlike any replay they've been through. For me, that's the profound illustration of my objection to Bush's tactics since 9/11. Rather than capitalizing on the world sentiment and sympathy for that horrible day to truly direct world opinion against such meaningless violence, Bush and his advisors instead chose the worst possible options of vengeance (in Afghanistan) and pre-emption (in Iraq; let me remind you that Hussein had no use for Al Quaedi, nor that group for him, which seems to continue to be lost in the nattering nabobs of 24-hour opinion news). The atrocities committed in the name of the U.S.'s revenge have only strengthened terrorism, undermined our legal system, and removed any sympathy the globe may have had for us. It may have even contributed to our recent economic troubles, as the continued cost of the occupation of Iraq has been an awful drain. Grimwood saw such a possibility in the 1980s.

Ever since reading REPLAY for the first time, I've said that this is the most "life-affirming" book I know of, and it remains so.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to believe this book was written in the 80s. It's as fresh as anything written today in the sci-fi realm. This was a book I couldnt stop reading until it was finished. It was a compulsion to follow the story to its end. I've recommended this to a lot of people of the years and everyone's been very happy with it. If you're even remotely interested in time travel, check this book out now.
RedSox More than 1 year ago
A very absorbing book, one I had never heard of even though it but was first published in 1986, I believe. The central theme is life after death by reliving your life over and over. It is a page turner, compelling and dark. The characters felt real but some of their lives seemed a little too fantastic but this may have been the author's intent. It is definitely thought provoking. I enjoyed it and I plan to read a some of Ken Grimwood's other books.
Absynthe More than 1 year ago
I love anything that has to do with time travel, alternate realities, or changes in history, so this book appealed to me immediately. I'm in college, so I don't have that much time to read in between everything else, but I couldn't stop reading this book. The story was so easy to jump into and the pace of the story kept me interested all the way through. The only complaint I have about the story is the amount of sex in certain chapters. I know the book is for adults, and that sort of thing is common in adult literature, so I expected it to a certain degree, but in some places it was entirely gratuitous. That being said, I will probably read the book again in a few years, and would definitely recommend it to anyone that's not afraid to hang on until the last page for an explanation.
Jonathan85 More than 1 year ago
Ken Grimwood's Replay may have been written in the 1980s, but the fictional journey of its protagonist is one that we have all pondered in some form: What if we woke up in our own past with the knowledge of the future? Yes, the movie Groundhog Day gave us a glance at this hypothetical impossibility by having Bill Murray re-live the same day over and over until he got it right. However, Grimwood's version is more touching, more real, and more emotionally engaging. We find ourselves getting wrapped up in the multiple lives of Jeff Winston, a man who continually dies from a heart attack in his mid 40s, only to wake up in college at the ripe age of 18. The burning and obvious questions revolves around what Jeff must do to appease the heavens and have his conundrum terminated, but the story takes a series of twists and turns that whisks the reader away from the expected and into a fun, frightening, and epic adventure. Grimwood is so effective because of his ability to write simply and to humanize characters amidst a whirlwind plot that is both complex and filled with room for potential error. However, Grimwood never escapes from his own story by going too much into the science fiction of Jeff's phenomenon. Despite unintentional time travel and talk of parallel universes, the story at heart is about how to appreciate life, what to do with second, third, and fourth chances, and how to re-examine the mundane things we take for granted.
The_Iceman More than 1 year ago
Jeff Winston, a 43 year old journalist of modest accomplishments going through the motions of a tired marriage, dies of cardiac arrest in 1988. To his shock, he returns to consciousness in 1963 in the healthy young body of his former 25 year old self. Without knowing the reason it has happened, he comes to grips with his situation and realizes that all his adult experience, wisdom and awareness of events to come remain intact.

With advance knowledge of the outcome of sports events and the growth of companies such as Apple and Sony, Jeff finds it simple, through strategic gambling and investments, to amass a fortune and become one of the wealthiest men in the world. After attempts to "re-meet" his wife fail, Winston opts for a life of sexual decadence with someone he meets in a Las Vegas casino. Despite the high life he now enjoys, Jeff recalls the pain of his "death" by heart attack and is careful to maintain the highest standards of cardiac health. But, like the events around which he accumulated his wealth, Jeff discovers that his death in 1988 is also unavoidable and he again dies with a painful heart attack.

Awakening again in 1963, Jeff realizes he is trapped in an endless cycle of death and re-birth and that, yet another time, he is faced with the choice of how to live the next 25 years of his truncated and ever-repeating life. In his second life, he meets Pamela Phillips, an acclaimed film-maker. Because of certain anachronisms that don't fit with his knowledge of how world history unrolls in the turbulent decade of the 1960s, Jeff realizes that Phillips is also a "re-player", another person trapped in her own cycle of death and re-birth. Pamela and Jeff discover their love for one another, re-discover that love in one "replay" after another and make the best of the opportunities offered them to improve their lives and the lives of those around them!

The subjective moral of Grimwood's text in "Replay" is clear enough! Strike an appropriate balance between a hedonistic self-centered life focused on the present versus a life focused on what might be and the benefit of family, friends and the world around you. The difficulty with this balance rests with the realization that life is both tenuous and finite. We never know when the ending will arrive.

The objective message, easier to understand but perhaps equally difficult to implement in a real world setting is to twist your knickers only around those issues over which you actually have control. Nothing else is worth dwelling upon in terms of mental or physical stress and effort!

There has been debate over whether "Replay" is better labeled "sci-fi" or "fantasy". I'll opt for fantasy as Grimwood made no attempt to hypothesize a mechanism for the re-playing phenomenon. At the same time, I'm going to deduct one star from its rating for a sci-fi quibble. Grimwood chose to fix Winston's and Phillip's baseline of experiences, knowledge and history at the level of their first life. As a fan of the multi-worlds concept, I didn't see any reason to favour one world over another. As both Phillips and Winston re-played their lives in a linear fashion, there was no obvious fundamental reason to suggest that, of necessity, they would be re-born in their "first" universe. Why not their second, third or indeed a universe that they had yet to experience?

"Replay" is a heart-war
ClemSamuels More than 1 year ago
Whenever I've tried to tell people about this book they always say, "It sounds like that Bill Murray movie" which kind of annoys me because this book is so good. I loved reading it and pondering the possibilities the hero has before him each time and imagining "what if." Great book. Great story.
Breezy291123 More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for a friend of mine because it was recommended reading if you watch LOST. He enjoyed it very much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The choices the author makes might not be the same as my own, but very thought provoking book.
PattyPC More than 1 year ago
I love this book, I've often wondered what I could do if I could relive my life. The book is fantastic, from the first page until the last one. I would recommend this book to everyone, it really makes you think. I could read this over and over again.
SailorGirl More than 1 year ago
A moving thrill-ride of time-travel, lives and loves lost, regret, and what we'd do if we could live our lives all over again. A page-turner that I couldn't put down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my all time favorite time travel book. I first read it in 1987 and have read it every year since. What a great story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I no longer have my copy of Replay because I loaned it out about eight years ago and miss it sorely! Replay begs to be read in one sitting, you just can't wait to find out what will happen next. This is a book I will purchase again (although I am still stalking the friend I lent the original hardcover to!). You will want to read Replay several times, there is always something you might have missed during prior reads.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Twelve years ago, in 1994, when I was deployed to Central and South America as a young Marine, I found this book and could not put it down. The book was incredible amd I read it several times over the six months I had it. Very easy to read and gripping at the same time. This book truly personifies the notion that we often put ourselves into the main characters place in the book...and there are many things the main character does that I think many of us would do!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ken Grimwood's novel, REPLAY, is a triumphant exercise in storytelling. He takes a tired old fantasy cliche - time travel - and turns it around, upside down, sideways in a manner that leaves the reader breathless. Grimwood ignores the 'reasons' for the time travel. Instead he focuses on the people involved in this spacetime loop. What would YOU do if you knew everything of importance over the next 25 years? Highly recommended! I end up having to buy new copies every year because I loan them out to friends, and they loan it to other friends. Maybe Grimwood owes me some money :)
SherryThompson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite fantasy books. Jeff Winston dies at 43 years old in his study, only to wake up in 1963, in his college dorm room. All of the memories from his life are still intact--allowing for the usual fuzziness for detail that creeps in over the years. We follow Jeff through many permutations of his life. In the first, he focuses on becoming wealthy and powerful. Though successful, this 'life' ends in tragedy.He wakes up back in his study, only to die immediately. (Although he isn't aware of it at first, each "life" begins a bit later in his personal history than the previous iteration did, and each brief return to his original life and his next death also shifts--at a much slower rate, but backwards in time.)I was struck by the poignancy of his many lives. Attempts to court the same woman, with subtly varying results. "Losing" both his wife and his children with each return to his study, since no two lives are exactly alike, so minute shifts in words and actions make changes in people around him and even result in different children.In one of the most poignant pair of "replays", Jeff ends up in a version of his life in which someone has created a film which has an immense positive effect on viewers around the world. In the next life, Jeff tries to see that the film is again produced but he is not successful. The chance for a much-changed future for humanity has slipped away.I think this is a love-or-hate book. And I think for some people it may take some time to settle into the story. I found details of his first iteration during his life on campus a bit dull. Sort of "been there, done that". But I kept reading. I was glad I did. One very good thing: over the course of the book, Grimwood telescopes much of Jeff's early years, skipping virtually unchanged events and details that don't need repeating, while focusing on the aspects where Jeff either tries to make changes in what will happen or inadvertently causes such changes.Great, great book! I'm always recommending it to others.
Scott_Clements on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books that made me really stop and think about my life. What would I do if I had my life to live over again, what choices would I make if I knew how things played out the first time.This book is brilliant, and I would highly recommend it!
Porterhouse21 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book, I tried and tried to get into it but wasn't able to. It took me so long to finish. I know the name of the book is ¿Replay¿, but they should have named it ¿Repeat¿. The story repeats itself over and over at least a dozen times. Jeff relives his life over and over and over! To me, it was a sci-fi version of the classic film ¿Groundhogs Day¿. I just wasn¿t able to get into the book!
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jeff Winston, as the reader finds out on page one, dies. Hell of a story opening, but then just as Grimwood is describing the pain exploding in Winston's chest, Jeff finds himself back in 1963, memories & knowledge of the future intact. So the first thing he does is to bet on the Kentucky Derby and win a fortune. He goes on to live a rich life then inexplicably, at the same time and on the same date in this life, he dies again. Then it starts over again...each time just a litle different. Eventually, Jeff finds out that he is what another calls a "replayer," and that he has to continue to go through his life over and over again.For those of you interested in the sci-fi time travel with tachyons or machines that boost people back & forward in time, you'll be disappointed. Frankly, the author doesn't provide us with any sort of explanation of how or why this just does. However, what he does give the reader is a superb novel with a wonderful story about choices & inevitability. A wonderful addition to my sci-fi shelves. I recommend it very very highly, especially to those readers who like reading about time travel.
santhony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stuck in a time loop. Condemned to relive the last 25 years of one's life, over and over. Hardly an original concept, yet the author throws in a few wrinkles and due largely to the fact that the book is so well written, he pulls it off for me. For the first 100 pages of this short, 300 page book, I was unimpressed. As many other have pointed out, returning to the past and trying to improve upon the first go around seems to be a pretty common theme in recent years (Groundhog Day, Butterfly Effect). As Jeff continues to cycle through the final years of his life, he takes various tracks that one can certainly sympathize with. He accumulates extreme wealth by trading on his knowledge of sporting results and stock market fluctuations, he tries to forestall tragedies (some successful, others not), he searches for kindred souls, tries to make the world a better place, tries to find answers and finally just seeks what happiness he can find in simplistic existence. The author throws in a few twists that are effective in differentiating this work from others in a similar vein. Despite the same date of death, each cycle begins to shorten, giving the "replayers" less and less time. Finally, the ending contains a final, satisfying surprise. All in all, a well done treatment of a somewhat overdone premise.
iammbb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Compelling.Jeff Winston dies suddenly in 1988 at age 43, discontented with his life.He immediately reawakens in 1963 at age 18, in his college dorm room.Disoriented and confused, he discovers that he gets to live his life all over again. And again. And again.I first heard about this book on NPR's You Must Read This on July 10. Brad Meltzer practically gushed about this book. Since time travel has always intrigued me (I even liked Timerider, a cheesy 1982 movie about time travel), I thought hey, I'd probably like that book.And I did.With just the right amount of philosophy, Replay takes the reader on an exploration of the meaning of life without being heavy handed.A cult classic with good reason.
annaflbak on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Read after reading review from PBS. Probably would have been more impressed had I read it in the '80s. Still, fun concept, well-enough executed. Recommend.
GirlMisanthrope on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an exceptionally well-crafted story of time travel. Every time Jeff dies, he returns to his 18 year old self for another "replay". We get to follow the choices Jeff makes for each lifetime and the story experiences a great twist when Jeff suspects he finds another "replayer". This book had me rushing to get home from work so I could continue the story.
AJRyan6of7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I discovered this book about 10 years ago, and it has been one of my favorite books since then. Just an awesome effort by Grimwood. Smart, poignant, heartbreaking, frustrating, sometimes even amusing. It really kept me turning the pages voraciously. Jeff Winston, the main character here, goes through every emotion a human can go through in this book, and in doing so makes the reader question their own life and how they're living it. Some people have said this book changed their lives. I don't know if that's true for me, but it certainly gave me a lot to think about, and that's high praise for any book, I think.