I am finding it harder and harder to use my Kindle. There are things I absolutely love about it, most often that it allows me to read in bed at night without a light on if my husband is already sleeping or its portability when I travel. But I find a radical diminution in what I am able to recall from books I read on my Kindle compared to printed versions. However, I can think of other factors that make a significant difference: how long I take reading the book and whether or not I have people to discuss it with. This is a novella, and I believe I read it in one sitting. It was squeezed in one night as I found myself between books. So sitting with it once, on my Kindle, and not discussing it with anyone, all lead to my not recalling too many details about it.
But this I remember: It is heartbreakingly beautiful. I read it soon after a friend was telling me of her mother’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. I followed it by watching the movie Still Alice. Between the three accounts and their happening so close together, I was able to tangibly feel the slow drowning that is the process of losing one’s mind while the body carries on; being aware of it as it is happening and incapable of slowing it down. Each of the three descriptions were marked by a feeling of utter helplessness.
This story is one of an old man and his grandson, as they figure out how to enter this slow losing together and say goodbye before it gets to the point that they can’t anymore. Whimsical and heart-rendingly beautiful, Backman has created a world of the mind that captures within it the life of the heart.