Sunday, July 20, 2014

Life After Life

by Kate Atkinson
May 22-July17, 2014

metafiction | ˈmetəˌfikSHən |
noun
fiction in which the author self-consciously alludes to the artificiality or literariness of a work by parodying or departing from novelistic conventions (esp. naturalism) and traditional narrative techniques.

Ursula Todd dies. A lot. Pretty much in every chapter of this book. In a more serious look at a Groundhog Day-type of story, Ursula lives a little longer each time and learns valuable lessons along the way. Oh, and she assassinates Hilter before he has a chance to rise to power.
"What if we had a chance to do it again and again, until we finally did get it right? Wouldn't that be wonderful?"
I was immediately drawn into this unusual plot and devoured the first half of Life After Life ... And. Then. It. Started. To. Drag. On. And. On. And ...

Oh, sorry, I nearly fell asleep there. What had the potential to be so interesting and different turned into a too-long history lesson on the Blitz. (I found out afterward that this portion is considered the "dark bleeding heart" of the novel.) I would find myself drifting off as I struggled through each chapter. At the beginning I was on pace to finish this book in about two weeks and instead it took nearly two months. Again, I'm wasting time on the so-so and not moving on to the great. But it always makes me hesitant to quit a book with so much positive hype.

To be fair, I do think a lot was lost on me due to the fact that the author chose to use German phrases and sentences frequently. I know no German. (Sidenote: wouldn't it be great if along with a regular dictionary, the kindle also offered a translation app? Simply hover the cursor over a phrase and get the English translation. Maybe I could get rich off this idea...) Granted, that's my ignorance, but it did get quite frustrating to miss the crux of so many scenes. I guess in the end it isn't the writing or even the overall premise that I didn't like. It just wasn't my cup of tea.

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