Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cataloging the Insults (and Joys) of Old Age

One of the drawbacks of old age, the protagonist of Saul Bellow’s final novel, “Ravelstein” (2000), declares, is that gaps begin to open in your life, “and these gaps tend to fill up with your dead.”
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Jillian Edelstein

One of the many excellent things about Diana Athill’s previous memoir, “Stet” (2000), about her long and storied career as a book editor in London — she worked with V. S. Naipaul, John Updike and Norman Mailer, among others — was that she allowed the gaps in her story to fill, like frosting layered onto a cake, with fulsome memories of her own cherished dead.

Some of the writers she celebrated in her witty, cantankerous style are all but forgotten now. Does anyone read the Irish novelist Molly Keane or the Brooklyn-born experimental writer Alfred Chester any longer?

To read more of Dwight Garner's Review from the New York Times click here.

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