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Somewhere Towards the End

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Somewhere Towards the End Cover

ISBN13: 9780393067705
ISBN10: 039306770x
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Diana Athill is one of the great editors in British publishing. For more than five decades she edited the likes of V. S. Naipaul and Jean Rhys, for whom she was a confidante and caretaker. As a writer, Diana Athill has made her reputation for the frankness and precisely expressed wisdom of her memoirs. Now in her ninety-first year, "entirely untamed about both old and new conventions" (Literary Review) and freed from any of the inhibitions that even she may have once had, Athill reflects candidly, and sometimes with great humor, on the condition of being old--the losses and occasionally the gains that age brings, the wisdom and fortitude required to face death. Distinguished by "remarkable intelligence...[and the] easy elegance of her prose" (Daily Telegraph), this short, well-crafted book, hailed as "a virtuoso exercise" (Sunday Telegraph) presents an inspiring work for those hoping to flourish in their later years.

Review:

Thirty years ago the literary critic and editor Malcolm Cowley brought out a memoir called "The View from 80." It was, as you might guess, a slender volume about old age, much of it emphasizing the "grow old along with me!/ The best is yet to be" approach to the advancing years. I had to assign the book for review and, after some thought, called up the distinguished and elderly scholar Douglas Bush,... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Synopsis:

An esteemed memoirist examines aging with the grace of Elegy for Irisand the wry irreverence of I Feel Bad About My Neck.

Synopsis:

One of the great editors in British publishing reflects candidly and with great humor on the condition of being old--the triumphs and tragedies, as well as the wisdom and fortitude required to face death.

Synopsis:

Winner of the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography and a bestseller: a prize-winning, critically acclaimed memoir on life and aging --"An honest joy to read" (Alice Munro).

About the Author

Born in 1917 and educated at Oxford University, Diana Athill has written several memoirs, including Instead of a Letter, After a Funeral, Somewhere Towards the End, and the New York Times Notable Book Stet, about her fifty-year career in publishing. She lives in London and was recently appointed an Officer of the British Empire.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Bookwomyn, April 29, 2009 (view all comments by Bookwomyn)
I enjoyed this book a bit more than than the first reviewer but perhaps that is because I am also a woman 'of a certain age.' I'm not quite as old as the author but found her experiences in the aging process and the losses which follow to be poignant. She, not surprisingly, is a good writer and the spare prose is welcome when compared to some modern writers who tend to go on and on. I liked it.
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OneMansView, April 1, 2009 (view all comments by OneMansView)
Musings on a life

Perhaps it is unwarranted, but when an elderly, intellectual person reviews a life of over ninety-plus years, the expectations are for some profound insights on how to live, on how to come to grips with the nearing end. In this rather whimsical and rambling effort, the author touches briefly on what seems to be almost random aspects of her life. While the book is not superficial, she does not linger long on her subjects. Adding to the vagueness is the lack of concern in locating her story in terms of places, dates, ages, names, or chronology.

For the author, crossing the age of seventy was the most significant milestone in her life, because that is the point at which she “ceased to be a sexual being.” Interestingly, she had almost a predisposition for long-running affairs with black men, highly cultured and not necessarily single. She readily admits they were affairs that satisfied needs and status, more than being deep commitments. As sex regrettably ebbed in her life, “other things became more interesting.” She points to a better understanding of her atheism, as an example, and how it fits in a Christian society. Unsurprisingly, as a long time editor at a publishing house, she retains a deep interest in books, although novels, with their focus on relationships and escapism, have become less appealing.

The author was born in a well-to-do English family and comments on the advantages of money, good health, and a good education in dealing with old age. She does not pretend to have much to say for those not so advantaged. She has a level of comfort, psychological and otherwise, in her life that she is hopeful will be sustaining for her remaining time. With her background, she has/had the capacity to withstand life’s adversities with her only regrets being tendencies towards emotional coldness and a certain amount of laziness in taking initiative.

As the author says, only the one living a life can truly examine it, but it needs to be done honestly. Furthermore, most lives are interesting at some level. But how does one determine whether a life should be or can be captured in a book? There is some question as to how much her life story on a fairly unique track, at least as revealed, will be relevant or informative to most readers.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780393067705
Author:
Athill, Diana
Publisher:
W. W. Norton & Company
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Authors, English
Subject:
Aging
Subject:
Editors, Journalists, Publishers
Subject:
Authors, English -- 20th century.
Subject:
Biography - General
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20090131
Binding:
Hardcover
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
192
Dimensions:
8.60x5.98x.73 in. .64 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Somewhere Towards the End Used Hardcover
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Product details 192 pages W. W. Norton & Company - English 9780393067705 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , An esteemed memoirist examines aging with the grace of Elegy for Irisand the wry irreverence of I Feel Bad About My Neck.
"Synopsis" by , One of the great editors in British publishing reflects candidly and with great humor on the condition of being old--the triumphs and tragedies, as well as the wisdom and fortitude required to face death.
"Synopsis" by , Winner of the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography and a bestseller: a prize-winning, critically acclaimed memoir on life and aging --"An honest joy to read" (Alice Munro).
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