The Meaning of Life After Life



9780316176484_custom-471ca800e5fe1258f2d4059059b24d8c1d95a7ba-s6-c30 In The Simpsons’ sixth-season Halloween episode — “Treehouse of Horror V,” primarily remembered for its Shining knock-off, The Shinning — Homer accidentally turns his toaster into a time machine, travels back to the prehistoric age, and realizes that anything he does in the past has the capacity to change the future. It’s a lesson as pivotal to time travel (see: every story ever told about time travel) as it is irrelevant to everyday life. After all, we can’t not make decisions. Should our choices send us down one path at the expense of others — or, to get more J.J. Abrams about it, should each of our choices create countless additional paths which themselves generate still more simultaneously occurring futures — so be it. We’ll never know the difference.

Unless. Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life is elegantly concerned with this abundance of potential paths, and with the possibility that one…

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