Suzanne's Reviews > The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley
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's review
Dec 20, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: l-a
Recommended to Suzanne by: I'm a Mosley fan
Read from May 04 to 06, 2012

4.5 Every little thing that happens to 91-year-old Ptolemy Grey is a spark that ignites an old memory, where people, places, events from his past rise up like tendrils of smoke that obscure his present reality. Many of these memories are terrible ones, episodes of a life growing up Black in the South, visions of violence and loss. And while the bad memories come unbidden, there are others he wants, but cannot access. In physical pain and constant confusion, Ptolemy (Lil Pea when he was young, sometimes called Papa Grey or Pitypapa) relies on the kindness of friends and relations on the rare occasions he needs to leave his solitary apartment for banking or marketing. And he needs protection – from the deteriorating neighborhood outside his door, the drug addict who has robbed him twice, and all the people who will take advantage of a frail old man.

Papa Grey becomes aware, in this twilight existence, that there is something he needs to do, something important he cannot quite remember, to fulfill an obligation and right an ancient wrong. His awareness of the importance of the mysterious task grows, as does his struggle for clarity in pursuit of it, when a drive-by shooting takes his favorite great-grandnephew and Ptolemy realizes the murdered man’s children will need looking after. The memorial service is where he meets Robyn, a beautiful teenage girl, the orphaned ward of a relative. Robyn, sweet and devoted to him, rescues him from living in squalor, as his apartment has become a place of unspeakable hoarding and filth. She does some Herculean-caliber cleaning and the two form a bond. With the help of Robyn and a doctor he is sure is the Devil, Ptolemy makes a not-quite-Faustian bargain so he can use well a treasure bequeathed to him at great cost, a gift to be passed on that will offer him redemption for his greatest regrets.

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Reading Progress

05/05/2012 page 167

Comments (showing 1-7)

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message 7: by Laura (new)

Laura Leaney This sounds like a good book.

Suzanne It really was. I almost always like Mosley's books (with one glaring exception). This one really sucked me in. It's a pretty quick read. I'd be interested to know what you think.

message 5: by Laura (new)

Laura Leaney What's the glaring exception?

Ginge What great news! We always loved the Easy Rawlins books, but found the books with other characters less interesting.

This sounds like an exception.

Suzanne "Fortunate Son" was, well, unfortunate. Not just a disappointment, but really awful. Don’t know what happened there. But I really like all his others that I've read: a couple of the Easy Rawlings mysteries, and there was another about another old black man, Sophocles Fortlow, in “Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned” which I absolutely adored. His characters are real and memorable. Highly recommend “Ptolemy Grey” and “Always Outnumbered,” especially.

message 2: by Laura (new)

Laura Leaney When I get done with my library stack, I'll read one of these books!

Suzanne Do, please! I'd love to discuss.

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