There are moments here that you recognise – the mother distraught after a book co-written with her daughter goes missing – and can relate to. There are others that you fear are too come but in a way this book is uplifting because rather than fearing death it seems to give a message that life is there to be enjoyed and remembered and almost celebrated. You cannot recall the good times near the end if you didn’t allow yourself to have any.
But there are also warnings about the use of time. A passage about books in particular stands out as a warning that no matter how much you invest in reading and collecting the pace of progress will always out pace you.
“The world is ‘uncountable’, filled up with things, and books, and books about things. The world accumulates and books accumulate what the world accumulates and seeing on one’s table books and more books of photographs, about art and books about other books and getting ready in one’s turn to fit the world onto a page, that vile accumulation of babbling, to add to the heap of one’s own echo…”
This is a book that sinks under the skin and her thoughts about time, memory and changing relationships are ones that I suspect will come back to me again and again. Just like the Hammerklavier there is a musical rhythm to it that makes you think of Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time as well as looking for patterns, recurring themes and echoes, in your own life.
A review will follow soon…
Years and years ago I went to see the play Art, for which I can only remember the scene about the friends arguing over the value of a white canvas. The Borders closing down sale, a strange feeling for a bookshop lover, had the first book by the play’s writer Yasmina Reza in the sale and so it felt like a deal that couldn’t be walked away from.
The book is a series of very short chapters which are on the themes of time, memory, life and death. Some are witty, others are sad but you move quickly through the life of someone who is not only getting older but witnessing that process happening to her parents and her own child.
The book starts with a conversation with the narrator’s dead father who struggles after a conversation with Beethoven to play one of his favourite pieces the Hammerklavier. That image sets the book up with the idea of death and memory.