Now and Again
By Charlotte Rogan
I loved Charlotte Rogan’s debut novel, The Lifeboat, a heady, exciting and morally unsettling tale about 39 passengers who escape a sinking cruise liner only to confront life and death as they decide who deserves to live or die. In some respects, Now and Again charts similar terrain. While The Lifeboat starred a chilly young woman named Grace, Now and Again stars Maggie Rayburn, a more amiable 39-year-old who lands on the horns of a dilemma. Returning from a birthday celebration during her lunch hour, Maggie spots a document on her boss’ desk: “Discredit the doctors … Flood the system with contradictory reports.” Rayburn works as a secretary for an Oklahoma-based munitions company that has done nicely out of the Iraq war. No wonder a shiver prickles her neck when she hears footsteps outside the door. This premise blooms into multiple characters who each explore the ramifications, personal, social, professional and political, of Maggie blowing the whistle. Where do (or should) one’s priorities lie? What if one sacrifices personal happiness and still fails to make a difference? Now and Again is beautifully accomplished, even if it engages the head more directly than the heart.