Although I had Kate Atkinson’s Started Early, Took My Dog on my to-read list, my good intentions went astray and I never did read that book. Now she has a new novel, Life After Life, and the theme seems vaguely familiar: the main character relives a segment of her life over and over, never realizing she has been there before.
An interesting conceit that has been used before, so I preordered the book, and it now sits on my Kindle. But – not until I read Sarah Lyall’s interview of the author in her New York Times article Kate Atkinson’s Groundhog Day Fiction – “Three Beginnings, Reverse Chronology and a Novel That Starts Over in Every Chapter,” did I want to read the book. Lyall connects the author to her writing, uncovering some of those moments the reader always wonders about – where is the connection of fiction to the author’s life? As an intensely private person, Atkinson carefully reveals only a sampling of her thoughts behind the writing, but it is enough.
The best sales pitch for reading came in the last paragraph of the interview, when Atkinson notes:
“The legacy of the fairy story in my brain is that everything will work out…In fiction it would be very hard for me, as a writer, to give a bad ending to a good character, or give a good ending to a bad character. That’s probably not a very postmodern thing to say.”
Maybe not, but my kind of book…