13 January 2008

Michael Kimball, How Much Of Us There Was, 2005

A challenging yet brave book because of the specific absence of any life-affirming sentimentality. The story of a grandfather whose wife is going through her days of hospitalisation and dying leading up to her funeral and the grieving days beyond, How Much Of Us There Was is unusual in that it’s an account of a very ordinary and unremarkable death, the kind that is around us every day, and Kimball describes the internal effect it has on the bereaved. The word to define this book is ‘closeness’: the first-person telling provides immediate and often unsentimental detail, and the reader is brought uncomfortably close to a private grief, such that I was grateful for the equally strong presence of love that acts as a counterbalance. There is comfort here but it is often hard to separate from the anguish, much as one would find at this stage of life itself.  PY

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