Jim's Reviews > Somewhere Towards the End

Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill
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's review
Jun 12, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: biography
Read from June 11 to 12, 2011

I think I really should read more books by women. When they are written by fully-realized individuals such as Diana Athill, they round out the Mephistophelean male impulse with a certain je ne sais quoi. (For the time being, it must remain so because, being irreparably a male, I am inhibited from expressing the full range of human emotions.)

As I lifted the book off the shelf at the Santa Monica Public Library, I thought, "This looks like an interesting book about living at an advanced age." What I did not realize at the time was that it was far more than that: It was an interesting book about living, period.

What Athill and I share is that we both have lived most of our lives around books -- she as a professional editor who helped bring the works of V. S. Naipaul and Jean Rhys to publication -- and I as a rank amateur. In the course of Somewhere Towards the End: A Memoir, Athill talks about the books that have meant the most to her, and how she has gone from being a reader of novels to being a reader of non-fiction:
I have gone off novels. When I was young I read almost nothing else, and all through my fifty years of working as a publisher fiction was my principal interest, so that nothing thrilled me more than the first work of a gifted novelist. Of course, there are many novels which I remember with gratitude -- and some with awe -- and there are still some which I admire and enjoy; but over and over again, these days, even when I acknowledge that something is well written, or amusing, or clever, I start asking myself before I have gone very far into it, 'Do I want to go on with this?', and the answer is 'No'.
Expecting to find something relatively somber -- after all, I am advancing to the austere shores of old age myself, I found something fascinating and life-affirming.

I suppose that death will cast a shadow only if you refuse to shine light on it.
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06/11 page 131
04/11 marked as: read
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message 1: by Justeenetta (new)

Justeenetta at the studio just now I also read sandi ault's wild indigo....tony hillerman meets.....whatshername, the woman who writes national park cop series. this was quite good: lots of pueblo indan lore, & a real wolf, one who lived, as a main character

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