This week’s reading for ENG 5010 was Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life. First, this book will definitely be added to my classroom library. I think I will start offering the books from this course as extra credit options for my students. These are bestselling books that students could pick up anywhere, and the content is not “mature” enough to cause me to question their appropriateness for 16, 17, and 18-year olds.
This week I looked at how perpetuum mobile is used as a structure by Atkinson. Although I knew that the Latin term meant perpetual motion, I did not know that it had a musical counterpart. I believe the musical definition is more fitting that the physics definition, although Atkinson makes no mention of the term in her notes; she refers to creating a structure that is “slightly fractal.” In the novel, Ursula (the main character) refers to time first as an ouroboros and then as a palimpsest. I think Atkinson created a possibility for time, an ideal one in which we can try again and again to get life right, that does not fit any single previously created construct for time.