Reality And Dream Collide In Amy Bonnaffons S Dazzling, Darkly Playful Debut Novel About A Love Affair Between The Living And The DeadFor Weeks, Rachel Has Been Noticing The Same Golden Haired Young Man Sitting At Her Brooklyn Bus Stop, Staring Off With A Melancholy Air When, One Day, She Finally Musters The Courage To Introduce Herself, The Chemistry Between Them Is Undeniable Thomas Is Wise, Witty, Handsome, Mysterious, Clearly A Kindred Spirit There S Just One Tiny Problem He S DeadStuck In A Surreal Limbo Governed By Bureaucracy, Thomas Is Unable To Cross Over To The Afterlife Until He Completes A Day Stint On Earth, During Which Time He Is Forbidden To Get Involved With A Member Of The Living Lest He Incur Regrets When Thomas And Rachel Break This Rule, They Unleash A Cascade Of Bizarre, Troubling ConsequencesSet In The Hallucinatory Borderland Between Life And Death, The Regrets Is A Gloriously Strange And Breathtakingly Sexy Exploration Of Love, The Cataclysmic Power Of Fantasies, And The Painful, Exhilarating Work Of Waking Up To Reality, Told With Uncommon Grace And Humor By A Visionary Artist At The Height Of Her Imaginative Power You re insufficiently dead, he said I m what Insufficiently dead You lack rupture with your life You have no exit narrative Somebody made a mistake with Thomas Barrett, and, yeah, he s no longer really alive In the traditional sense So, he s sent back to earth for three months, with a set of rules, something along the lines of this Rules that, if followed properly, will keep Thomas from experiencing the regrets His interactions with the living are to be somewhat limited, so, of course, he meets the girl of his dreams, the only one with whom he shares complimentary weirdnesses But, alas, TRUE LOVE is always a tricky thing particularly when your heart s desire keeps fading in and out on you I LOVED this one Smart, funny, quirky, and touching, but with dark undertones if you re looking for something unusual this one should be the cup of tea that s right up your alley. This isn t like any love story you re likely to read And not just because one of the lovers is dead Technically ghost lovers have been done before cue in The Righteous Brothers Unchained Melody , but this is something radically new and strikingly good The Romeo here is a recently dead man who due to a bureaucratic snafu in processing gets to have some time on mortal coil, albeit circumscribed no social interactions, daily reports, etc Eventually this gets to be unbearably tedious, like rules tend to, and he finds himself with a Juliet of his own, a young librarian with a questionable taste in partners Love of books can send one dreaming of impossible romances, but eventually life sets in, especially when the entire affair has a rapidly approaching expiration date Soon both find themselves holding on to something they really, really ought to let go off, albeit for different reasons Love itself was easy enough, but moving on is going to be very difficult indeed And so told from alternating perspectives, this is a story of two people and their brief passionate connection amid impossible circumstances So as far as love stories go, that s as epic as it gets impossible circumstances But there s so much here, it starts off in an offbeat manner of a dark comedy and slowly turns into something much complex and involved, it s a terrific character study and a clever both metaphorically and observationally take on relationships It s about social isolation and or connectivity and choices one makes and, of course, regrets A story about life, love and letting go there s that s the generic tagline for the cinematic adaptation It s exceptionally well written exactly the sort of writing that speaks to me , emotionally intelligent and very, very smart The author s had a collection of short stories gotta find those published, but this is her novel debut and what an auspicious debut it is For me the narrative surpassed the characters and their eventual fates as interested as I was in that , every so often a book just has that effect on a reader, the perfect engagement So yeah I loved this book Recommended Thanks Netgalley. via my blog You re insufficiently dead, he said I m what Insufficiently dead You lack rupture with your life You have no exit narrative This is a playful story about being dead and being alive It s just a state, really Thomas Barrett has been trapped in nothingness due to some mistake He is insufficiently dead according to his visit to the office and for the time being will exist in a state most will never have the chance to experience Returned to earth with the living for a window of three months, he has rules that if he doesn t follow will incur regrets He s best to forget the heaviness of his other life, and just enjoy his time in the new one, as much as a person who doesn t actually exist can He must learn to let go of the past, the old life, that is for all intents and purposes extinguished.Thomas first notices the girl at a coffee shop, captivated by her He decides a harmless crush from afar won t incur regrets, nor harm anyone Something about the girl with her dark hair, glasses, how she doled out her attention pulls him in Unbeknownst to him, she doesn t fully exist either, but her error is loneliness and not death The reader is introduced to Rachel who first notices Thomas at the bus stop, who seems to have some strange energy about him and, she notices, wears the same outfit every single day Free of romantic entanglements for a year, she works as a reference librarian enjoying the fantasy of love and how it should be than it s actual crushing reality A daydreamer, who has fallen in love with her own dreams , the object of her fantasy is now the electric man at the bus stop Catching sight of him fuels her desire that seems to encompass the world Will it last Or will her bubble burst Despite her best efforts to ignore her wild attraction, a meeting takes place and so begins one strange romance between a man and woman who compliment one another in an impossible love story.There is so much about himself he must keep hidden and not for the usual reasons men remain mum He truly is not at liberty to tell her, but when his body begins to betray him revelations are impossible to avoid Being with Rachel feeds the wish for Thomas to be present, but it is a race against time Rachel herself seems to be disappearing in Thomas who is much like a daydream and nightmares haunt her sleep love as mystery But what will become of Rachel, is it possible she too could be on some strange edge of existence I enjoyed this novel, it s a romance but the life vs death theme, the exploration of individual separateness and all that entails, made it a bit meaty Thomas may be insufficiently dead, but is Rachel insufficiently alive Are many of us Delightful.Publication Date February 4, 2020Little, Brown and Company Thank you to NetGalley for a Kindle ARC of The Regrets. I was so excited when my request was approved.I love ghost stories, the darker, macabre, and scary, the better The Regrets was than that, though, not what I expected, but not in a bad way.When Thomas is prevented from achieving his proper death due to bureaucratic red tape, his respite on earth for a few months is shaken by the appearance of a young, beautiful woman named Rachel.The two of them begin a strange, wondrous, convoluted, powerful but dangerous relationship that threatens Rachel s tenuous hold on herself, humanity and her place in it.The author writes beautifully, including metaphors that straddle the line between tenderness and wit, hilarious dark comedic outlooks on life and the blunt, realistic descriptions of sex and lovemaking.Actually, I was kind of surprised by how often sex is discussed I was thinking of blood and ghosts, scares and thrills when I read the blurb, but that s just me I m a female Tim Burton.But, I began to understand all the references to sex, because making love and intimacy is affirming you are alive, not dead Lovemaking and sex is the antithesis to death It is one of ways we feel alive, when we are with someone else in the most intimate of ways And yes, sometimes we seek sex just to connect in a world that s increasingly difficult to find someone to connect with.I had hoped for exposition on the business of death, such how a mistake like what happened when Thomas was young no spoilers here could happen I mean, when you think about, how can a bureaucracy get something wrong that happens all the time for millennia 24 7 I guess I answered my own question It s a bureaucracy.The Regrets isn t just about the regrets we all have in our life, no matter your age.It s about the letting go Moving on Which is always easier said than done.And the first step is always the hardest.Letting go isn t just releasing all the mistakes and deeds you wished you hadn t done or had done It s about being kind to yourself, to remember that we re human We make mistakes And we can go on if we give ourselves a chance And taking a chance is scary Like life.But, life is for the living so live while you can. I really love all those beautifully crafted slice of life style observations that are prevalent in literary fiction, but I just can t seem to get excited about them unless they re in the context of some weirdo fantasy setup In that regard this book was just chef kiss perfect The story follows Thomas, a guy who had an encounter with an angel as a kid when the angel mistook him for a different boy she was there to collect When he dies for real many years later, the angel that comes for him is whoopsie the same angel, and it creates all sorts of clerical errors in the afterlife Now for the next three months he s stuck on Earth in a body that looks like his but isn t, unable to contact people from his past life or make new connections lest he incur the dreaded regrets Complications happen, of course, in the form of Rachel, the girl at his bus stop who he becomes a little obsessed with.So first off, I obviously loved the writing in this there are so many choice nuggets peppered throughout that the screenshots folder on my phone grew significantly over the course of the book I loved the flawed characters and how they reacted within this strange context I loved the odd, floaty charm of it all, and the low key humor that had me smiling on than one occasion I will say that I think this started a lot stronger than it ended, and part of that comes down to a narrative shift about halfway through the book that I don t think was totally successful The momentum slowed down at that point and I ended up putting it down for a few days before picking it up again I m glad I did go back, though, as I do think it comes back around in the end and I found myself overall satisfied with where it all went Overall, though, I just really liked this book Even though I m not going to be going around telling everyone that they ABSOLUTELY MUST READ IT, I feel this soft spot inside that s filled with nothing but a warm, pleasant fondness for it. A LOVE AFFAIR BETWEEN THE LIVING AND THE DEAD, WHAT I WANTTTTPLUS THAT IS A GREAT COVER 4.5 This was weird in the most delicious way. This is a very strange story that mixes in the supernatural, but that s not the point The point is to write a book about desires, about existing, about the bigger questions about life Here is the kind of literary fiction that I crave the words sing, the ideas sear and it leaves an impression that you weren t expecting and didn t think you d appreciate so much Thank you to the publisher for the advance reading copy. In my defense is there a form of love that s not a welcome unraveling I can tell the extent to which I will love a novel by the amount of notes I jot down while reading By page 90 of The Regrets, I had two full pages of notes, and I didn t plan on slowing down With my trusty Sharpie pen in hand, I went on to write even quotes, key words, and all the emotions this story evoked in me.This is a ghost story It is also a romance sensual and at times unflinching in the candid ways in which Bonnaffons describes the sexual encounters between the two main characters But at it s core, what really shook me rattled me was the honest portrayal of a destructive relationship.When Rachel falls in love with Thomas, she is aware he is already dead, and yet she can t let him go With their sexually charged connection that is consuming and isolating, she believes he is her daydream come to life But she knows nothing about his pervious life his real life She doesn t know he was cynical, at times callous, and had no idea how to be in a happy, healthy relationship As Rachel begins to yearn for a real connection, one that she can share with her friends, one that involves actually seeing and touching another person, Thomas begins to haunt her, staking his claim on the only link he has to the real, living world.As Rachel s relationship with Thomas progresses, she slowly forgets who she is She forgets what she wants She forgets how to feel And Thomas knows he can control her He knows he can interfere with her happiness because no one can stop him We all live with the ghosts from past relationships, in a sense, whether we allow them to haunt us or not That was my biggest take away from this novel Every ex, every past lover, leaves their mark on us Some fade away with time while others carve a deeper scar Some of our ghosts are happy to leave us alone, but in some scary, tragic situations, some ghosts refuse to be ignored The Regrets explores that tragedy in an unconventional yet poignant way.Look, in the name of being honest, I ll say this this book is straight up weird Quirky Unusual It has an indie feel, and a lot of times there is very little dialogue and pages of interior monologues Very similar to Normal People in this way But if you give this little novel a chance, really allow it to push your boundaries and flood your mind with it s dark absurdism, I think you will be pleasantly surprised I know I sure was.4 5 stars, only because I wanted a little from the ending A big thank you to the publisher for a gifted finished copy All opinions are my own QUOTES That s the best part of being single Farting with impunity.Most people don t notice most other people Most people don t notice much of anything Their lives fit them too snugly noticing requires space.Life, no matter how raw and fragile and doomed, will do what life does reach out toward other life.In my defense is there a form of love that s not a welcome unraveling How about that We ve got complementary weirdnesses.We generally expected little from other humans besides absurdity As a result, we were rarely disappointed.It is a disease of girls who spend lots of time alone, reading books and making up stories they grow up to be women with intense dream lives and daydream lives, who sometimes confuse their private reality with the shared reality of others.I occasionally felt bad about this difference between us about the way I reliably failed to inhabit a moment, instead hovering outside of it, catlike, waiting to isolate and pounce on a tellable detail.I believe in free will, not in fate But will doesn t operate in a vacuum Sometimes other people s are stronger than yours, and your will has no grounds for resistance.And so the zoo became my gap year, and the gap became two years, then three Slowly my life became one big gap It yawned wider and wider every day.It s like I can t tell now who s the ghost him or me I just sort of float through life but I m totally apart from it, like there s a glass between me and the world.Only I could extinguish the dying embers of the daydream To claim my own selfish, boring, pointless life as though it were my only treasure because, in fact, it was.
- 304 pages
- The Regrets
- Amy Bonnaffons
- 06 October 2019 Amy Bonnaffons