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Somewhere Towards the End : A Memoir
The New York Times bestseller: a prize-winning, critically acclaimed memoir on life and aging --"An honest joy to read" (Alice Munro).
Hailed as "a virtuoso exercise" (Sunday Telegraph), this book reflects candidly, sometimes with great humor, on the condition of being old. Charming readers, writers, and critics alike, the memoir won the Costa Award for Biography and made Athill, now ninety-one, a surprising literary star.
Diana Athill is one of the great editors in British publishing. For more than five decades she edited the likes of V. S. Naipaul and Jean Rhys, for whom she was a confidante and caretaker. As a writer, Athill has made her reputation for the frankness and precisely expressed wisdom of her memoirs. Now in her ninety-first year, "entirely untamed about both old and new conventions" (Literary Review) and freed from any of the inhibitions that even she may have once had, Athill reflects candidly, and sometimes with great humor, on the condition of being old--the losses and occasionally the gains that age brings, the wisdom and fortitude required to face death. Distinguished by "remarkable intelligence...[and the] easy elegance of her prose" (Daily Telegraph), this short, well-crafted book, hailed as "a virtuoso exercise" (Sunday Telegraph) presents an inspiring work for those hoping to flourish in their later years.
When it comes to facing old age, writes Athill, there are no lessons to be learnt, no discoveries to be made, no solutions to offer. As the acclaimed British memoirist (who wrote about her experiences as a book editor in Stet) pushes past 90, she realizes that there is not much on record on falling away and resolves to set down some of her observations. She is bluntly unconcerned with conventional wisdom, unapologetically recounting her extended role as the Other Woman in her companion's prior marriage--then explaining how he didn't move in with her until after they'd stopped having sex, which is why it was no big deal for her to invite his next mistress to move in with them to save expenses. She is equally frank in discussing how, as their life turns sad and boring, she copes with his declining health, just as she cared for her mother in her final years. Firmly resolute that no afterlife awaits her, Athill finds just enough optimism in this world to keep her reflections from slipping into morbidity--she may not offer much comfort, but it's a bracing read. (Jan.)
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W. W. Norton & Company
December 06, 2009
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