Friday, June 1, 2012


The Book: Replay, by Ken Grimwood (Arbor House, 1987).
Why You Should Care: A wonderful summertime beach-read, this novel is a page-turner that will have any person with an entrepreneurial mindset wondering what he or she would do under similar circumstances.
So last time I wrote that I rarely read fiction, which prompted a fellow entreVIEW blogger (who’s something of an entrepreneurial guru) to tell me I just had to read this book, which had been recommended to him by a client who is also an entrepreneur. Turns out, this is a pretty good read for anyone, especially those with an entrepreneurial mindset.
The main character is a middle-aged journalist who, in the first pages of the book, dies of a heart attack, only to find himself returned to the point in his life when he was a freshman in college. The twist is that he can still remember everything from his prior lifetime, so he knows all the major events that have yet to occur. Following a classic entrepreneur’s fantasy, he makes bets and investments that seem extremely risky to those who know him, but are sure things to him (so, really, if there’s no risk involved, is this actually entrepreneurialism?). He makes a huge fortune, which he continues to build until he dies again, same time as in his previous life. The scenario plays over and over (just as in the 1993 film Goundhog Day, which some suggest may have been inspired by this 1987 book), except that each “replay” starts at a later point in the character’s life.            
Not a bad story (Okay, yes, it’s a page-turner), but I liked it for two particular reasons not directly linked to its story arc.
First, it really captures the feel of the time period, which covers the early 1960s through the 1980s, a period during which I went from childhood to lawyerdom. Time after time, the story will touch on some little detail, something I haven’t thought about in 40 years but which evokes the essence of life in the earlier era.
More important, though, is that the story really inspires thought about how you would act if you found yourself in the same circumstances. Chances are, most of us immediately would think of doing what the character first does—he makes a lot of money so that he can live his life without having to worry about how to generate cash flow. But, as the unfolding story makes clear, this presents its own challenges. Money proves necessary but, in the end, not sufficient. I suspect that a number of entrepreneurial readers would, after envisioning their own fantasy world along these lines, reach the same conclusion.

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