The book was good but it felt like a step back from the masterwork of The Friend; they are so similar in structure and style but it felt a little bit like everything in this one was a few percentage points less powerful, which accumulated. The writerly citations and digressions felt more like a pale Cusk interpretation rather than the dispensations of a self-aware narrator; the narrative through-line felt like a bit of a vehicle to muse on death & loss rather than an event in of itself.
tAnd despite all of that, Nunez still wrote a good book. It was short and sweet and hit the right notes of warmth and melancholy. But it’s hard to recommend because I think there are books (some by the author, some not) that accomplish their goals more admirably than this one.
She wants to go somewhere, she says. I don’t mean travel. Travel would be a distraction. That’s not what I’m looking for. And if I did go back to some place that I loved or where I was very happy (Greece, for example, where she’d had the romance of her life, or Buenos Aires, where she’d had her best-ever vacation)—well, you know what they say. Never return to a place where you were really happy, and in fact that’s a mistake I’ve already made once in my life, and then all my beautiful memories of the first time were tainted.
Dying is a role we play like any other role in life: this is a troubling thought. You are never your true self except when you’re alone—but who wants to be alone, dying?
I think it's largely true, what I once heard a famous playwright say, that there are no truly stupid human beings, no uninteresting human lives, and that you'd discover this if you were willing to sit and listen to people.