Geno is living out his final days in a nursing home—bored, curmudgeonly, and struggling to connect with his nursing assistant Angel, who he sees as being different from him in every way possible, and unable to understand him in any way. Perhaps no one really can, since Geno has been telling everyone who will listen that he's not just Geno—in fact, he's lived many past lives, dating back 1000 years, and since that first life in Seville, Spain, he has been searching for the love of his life he met then and only one other time since. Is this possible: was his life a miraculous one that let him live, again and again? Or is he crazy, or lonely, rehearsing larger-than-life fantasies to get through the day?
Evison performs writing magic; despite its implausibility, I committed myself fully to Eugene’s 1,100-odd years of life, immersed in tales of adventure and passion that are almost too good to be true ... I was gripped ... The power of the author grows with his ability to suspend disbelief. Writers do this through a combination of specific details, sensory descriptions of a world that comes to life in the reading or listening. But all authors are by definition unreliable narrators, imposing meaning and structure on a world full of chaos and miscommunication. A skilled one can reach inside us and widen our emotional worlds ... I would gladly have spent many more pages with the magical tapestry of Again and Again. In revealing the tricks of his trade, its author exposes the tender heart of his craft.
The story sometimes lacks depth as it favors chase scenes over history, and it skates over tragic difficulties that should provide the novel’s tension. But hiding underneath it all is a yearning meditation on the nature of love, fate and how our past(s) might determine our future ... Readers may not warm to Eugene, but they will fall for Angel.
I have good news and bad news: No one will feel particularly excited to ban Again and Again. But, alas, no one will feel particularly excited to read it either. Despite the promise of its premise, the high-concept plot of Again and Again never manages to rise above its lax execution and clashing intentions ... Evison has a big heart for sad-sack characters, and his former experience as a personal-care attendant informs his writing about the special relationships that can develop with people whom society has written off. But moving erratically between several different times and settings puts enormous pressure on the quality of these various tales ... Eugene’s affection for Angel finally reaches a saccharine crescendo that reads like a bake-off between Mitch Albom and Nicholas Sparks.