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Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill

Somewhere Towards the End (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Diana Athill

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Title:Somewhere Towards the End
Authors:Diana Athill
Info:Granta Books (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback

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Somewhere towards the end by Diana Athill (2008)


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To me it was plain silly. It is so obvious that life works in terms of species rather than individuals. The individual just has to be born, to develop to the point at which it can procreate, and then to fall away into death to make way for its successors, and humans are no exception whatever they may fancy. We have, however, contrived to extend our falling away so much that it is often longer than our development, so what goes on in it and how to manage it is worth considering. Book after book has been written about being young, and even more of them about the elaborate and testing experiences that cluster round procreation, but there is not much on record about falling away. Being well advanced in that process, and just having had my nose rubbed in it by pugs and tree ferns, I say to myself, 'Why not have a go at it?' So I shall.

This is a memoir written by an 88-year-old atheist ex-publisher about what it is like to be old and facing death. Diana Athill accepts that she is too old to get another dog and that she will never see her new tree fern grow into a tree, but apart from that she doesn't go in for regrets. She had an interesting career and lots of lovers and even picked up a surrogate daughter and grand-children along the way, and I like the way she doesn't sugar-coat things and faces up to past bad behaviour. ( )
  isabelx | Jul 7, 2015 |
Started out fresh, then lagged a bit and finally, ended well. Description of Athill's memoir about aging (written at age 88)might be a satisfying description of a life. I particularly enjoyed her chapters on her atheism and her reading predilections. I too find (at a much younger age than hers) that my interest in reading novels (and watching movies, perhaps for the same reasons) has diminished as I get older, while my pleasure in reading both non-fiction and poetry (Athill doesn't mention poetry)has intensified. In most other respects, my life and point of view differ quite radically from Athill's, so reading her memoir did not illicit spasms of affirmative head-nodding on my part. However, I appreciated her honesty in not trying to make herself appear better, kinder, more loving or selfless than she sees herself as being. ( )
  Paulagraph | May 25, 2014 |
About aging by an 89 year old. Excellent! ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
Diana speaks forthrightly and honestly about the changes she's experienced as she's aged. She is at this writing 89. She speaks of the ebbing of sex, when to stop driving her car, the deaths of those she knew and her hopes for her own passing. She found that taking classes was enjoyable, and the she has few regrets. Gardening still gives her great pleasure though it is more difficult. I enjoyed her book and expect that I will reread it in about 10 years. ( )
  k8davis | May 21, 2013 |
Diana Athill, a top British editor, wrote this short reflection on life and how it might end for her when she was 89. The writing is stunning, every sentence is perfectly-crafted and thoughful. Short as it is, however, its not short enough: the brilliance of the writing is not enough to overcome the tedium of the subject illuminated only occasionally by the witty recounting of stories and unusual characters. I don't often feel disappointed in myself if I didn't enjoy the book, but here I feel there is something in me that is lacking, that I should be able to appreciate this beautifully-written and poetic memoir. But I didn't. ( )
  Petra.Xs | Apr 2, 2013 |
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This book tells the story of what it means to be old: how the pleasure of sex ebbs, how the joy of gardening grows, how much there is to remember, to forget, to regret, to forgive - and how one faces the inevitable fact of death.

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 039306770X, 0393338002

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