Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday Salon - January 20

I've just picked up "The End of the Alphabet", by C.S. Richardson - haven't read very much yet, but it's a lovely, 'neat' little book which I find very pleasing aesthetically.

The central characters are Ambrose Zephyr and his wife Zappora (Zipper) Ashkenazi. I like that - A.Z. and Z.A. The little I've read thus far describes the civilized, restrained, perfected life that Ambrose and Zappora have been living. Sadly, we discover that Ambrose has but a month to live, "give or take a day"...

Ten p.m: I finished the book and a few jobs as well. The book is so short - a hundred, thirty-nine pages and some of those quite abbreviated. Lovely little book, I'm still digesting it...

Ambrose has lived a somewhat mundane life, but we discover that he has a spark of creativity. His last month is a 'flame-out', the last flashes of brilliance left in his fire. He's had a life-long fixation on the alphabet and when faced with death he feels suddenly driven to make one last race through Amsterdam, Berlin, Chartres, Deauville. In Amsterdam Zipper buys a small journal which the book itself seems to illustrate. The description of her journal coincides nicely with the cover of the book. The quality of the book paper seems 'just so' and even the occasionally nearly-blank page evokes Zipper's journal. Her journal remains untouched until the last page of the book.

Ambrose adjusted his itinerary for his wife's sake, settling for "E, for Eiffel Tower" instead of his planned Elba. Next is Florence, then Gaza. "H" and "I" are turning points - Ambrose and Zipper return home to England and the alphabet is completed there.

This one deserves to be read again I think. The writing is elegant and subtle. I read slowly, carefully and yet I feel certain that there must be something I've missed. It's that good.

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At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Debra Hamel said...

Looks interesting. And definitely an aesthetically pleasing little book, judging from the picture.

At 7:58 AM, OpenID Petrona said...

Lovely, neat review, Susan. I enjoyed reading it, and it made me want to read the book.

At 9:14 PM, Blogger Notabene said...

I've been meaning to read this book, ever since I had the chance to interview Scott. You might be interested in a listen: here we talk mostly about book designing.


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