Meta: ISFDB. This shortstory appeared first in New Worlds SF, October 1966, edited by Michael Moorcock. I’ve read it in The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth and Other Stories, my review here.
A man re-lives through recurring time reversals – going through bad hangovers before breaking out of the loop seem to be the worst thing at first. But then the story ends in a tragic love story where the protagonist „starts“ with his wife’s funeral.
It is a simple story, nearly without dialogue, no action at all. But I was captured completely by the beauty of the poetry and the care for details telling things backwards – birds flying backwards, the cigarette growing longer and unlighting back into the lighter, the Martini being undrunk back into the glass:
„A faintly-remembered nightmare ran in reverse though his mind, giving it an undeserved happy ending.“
„‚.dust to dust; ashes to Ashes,‘ the man said, which is pretty much the same whichever way you say it.“
It is this language that makes the story real, and although the ending was quite predictable, I absolutely loved it. The topic of time reversal is nothing new nowadays, and I instantly thought of the movie Groundhog Day. But at the time Zelazny wrote the story, it was quite fresh. I just don’t know where the title comes from.