You’ve already seen this episode.
It’s your favorite show, so of course you did. Still, though it’s a repeat, a rerun, a second-airing, an installment you watched already, you probably won’t change the channel. Sometimes seeing something familiar is strangely comforting. At other times, as in the new novel “Again and Again” by Jonathan Evison, it’s a goal.
Eugene Miles had very few friends in his lifetimes. He didn’t need anyone but Gaya, really – although now, at age 105, he’d begun to think of Angel as his last friend.
At first, Eugene grumped. He didn’t want Angel around, but he realized that the young man had a job to do, and over time, as Angel cleaned Eugene’s room at the eldercare facility, Eugene eventually softened to Angel’s easy companionship. He was one of the few people who believed Eugene when he said he was 1,100 years old and had lived many lifetimes. Angel honestly wanted to hear Eugene’s memories.
Once, Eugene was a slave traveling with Lewis and Clark. He’d been a little girl who loved to canoe and a cat owned by Oscar Wilde. Now he spent his days doing puzzles, waiting for Angel to clean, and looking forward to death, hoping he’d be allowed to die this time, once and for all, and end this forever life.
This life could never compare to his time with Gaya.
He was a common thief when he met her; she was a resistance fighter in her Spanish village, and she saved his life. Months later, he tried to save hers because he had fallen in love with her. He didn’t want to live without her, in fact, and for the rest of his many existences, he looked for her everywhere, and he waited.
Was it really almost 1,100 years since Eugene asked Gaya to live? No, he’d begged her to live, but she refused, saying something that haunted him.
“Perhaps in another life.”
Have you ever finished a book, closed the cover, and sat for a minute, just a little stunned? Yep, that’s what you get when you’ve raced through “Again and Again.”
It’s nearly impossible not to hurry through the story here – not that you’ll want it to end but because you won’t be able to tear yourself away from the tale that author Jonathan Evison spins or the tantalizing hints of what’s to come (or not). But watch out …
That the main character is playing a modern-day Scheherazade to a lovelorn father-to-be and the psychiatrist bent on finding the truth is a big jerk both seem, at first, to be of little consequence. That is, until they suddenly are and Evison yanks the rug out from under a reader with a whoop and a whisper, leaving you with a clever, clever novel that’ll work for your book club.
Just know that if you’re the kind of person who likes to share your favorite reads, you’ll want two copies of “Again and Again.” One to lend and one to read on repeat.