I finished this one last night. What a wonderful book. It may be the best read of the year. The subject matter sounds dreary but isn't. The story meanders between present time and time gone by, and it does so fluidly and without haste or confusion. I thought the writing style to be intelligent, and the text carried from one page to the next. The main story is about death and dealing with death. It is not maudlin and grey. Instead it moves from a depressed state to reality, and quietly teaches as it proceeds.
One paragraph will stay with me for a long time.
"You know, the cruel thing about depression is not that it makes you see the world darkly; God knows at my jauntiest, I've always looked on the world darkly. How else should one look at the bloody thing? The real debasing role of depression is to remove all flashes of energy or concentration, to ensure that you can never complete anything. Depression as depth fatigue. It takes a particular zest in grinding you to immobility, so that you have no smidgeon of self-esteem left."
I've experienced depression and can attest that the author hit this definition perfectly.
The story revolves around an old professor who loses his wife and subsequently, living alone and remote, begins his own decline to his death. As he fails more each day, he brings memories forward by way of glimpses of his history. The process is not sad, but rather fascinating. The author's writing is superb.
This is not a book for everyone, but it was a terrific and timely book for me. As I say, it may be the best book I read this year.