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I started this book in college 50 years ago and abandoned it 30 years ago. Two months ago the charcters came out of their coma and took the story in a new direction.


novel - mainstream/fantasy/magic realism


Beyond the Fourth Door by Richard Seltzer
84,794 words


The first door is birth. The second is death. Frank and Marge go through the fourth door.


Without knowing why or how, a pair of college students go through the second door without dying, waking up  50 years older than they were before and with no memory of what has happened.


Seeking a way out, they read a novel that Frank wrote about them and his family before the missing years. It's a coming-of-age family saga with

Charlie, an amateur movie maker;

Sarah his insightful bible-believing mother;

Irene, his creative and uninhibited wife;

Frank, his nephew, the author of the novel; and

Marge, who loves and hates both Frank and Charlie.


Trying to sort truth from fiction, when perception and action are often shaped by lies,  Frank and Marge bond with one another as they find ways to slip through cracks in time and space.


Comparables --

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (soul migration)

Time and Again by Jack Finley (time travel in an everyday setting)

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (soul migration)

The Fountain Overflows, The Real Night - Rebecca West (magic sprinkled on everyday life)

The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck (alternate lives)

The Alexandria Quartet by Laurence Durrell (alternate perspectives)  privacy statement