When All Is SaidWhen All Is Said by Anne Griffin
My rating: 4/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

“I’m here to remember—all that I have been and all that I will never be again.”

this is self-reckoning at its finest.

here i am finally reviewing a book i read more than six months ago with the warning that because i read it six months ago, it’s going to be a review by someone with a sorta hazy memory of the book, trying to recall what i was thinking about, and what impression this one thing made on me way back before the world changed so much, but which i need to write in order to check off a “finally did that” box on the mental “to-do” list that keeps me up nights, self-recriminating.

which are all interlocking pieces contributing to an oddly appropriate mindset in which to review this particular book about the past, memory, shifting social mores, and a life reflected upon and pinned down in its most treasured and regrettable moments as an 84-year-old man sits alone in a bar and drinks a toast to five people who profoundly affected him, each drink accompanied by a nostalgic stream of memories chewed down to their gristle.

to me, it was crystal clear what this book was from its very first pages, but i’ve been told some readers were surprised by the ending, so behind the screen it goes: View Spoiler »

it is a lovely book through and through—poignant and meditative and grounded by a deftly realized character; gruff and tender and flawed, coming to terms with a long life’s choices relayed in that quintessentially irish blend of funny and sad—i’m interrupting this review to toast The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes; an emotional if not thematic cognate to this book that far more people should read, okay? back to this book now—and it’s a remarkable debut; fast-paced without being flimsy, rueful and melancholy without being emotionally manipulative, unflashy and effective and excellent.

There was a love but of the Irish kind, reserved and embarrassed by its own humanity.

if you’re looking for a sad that’s not, like, a news sad, here’s a book for mood.



review to come.

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