Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Out of confusion, clarity

There are many things about getting old that I'm not particularly looking forward to. (Though all of them beat the alternative as they say!)
Among them is losing my mind. I know how frustrating it can be when that word is on the tip of my tongue and I just can't seem to find it. I can only imagine how terrifying it would be to have such moments over and over again each day.
Walter Mosley captures that struggle beautifully in "The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey."
His prose manages to chronicle Grey's confusion, that jumble of events from across his 91 years, without completely losing the reader. No mean feat, that.
"Too many names were moving around  Ptolemy's mind. Hilly sounded familiar; and June, too, had a place behind the door that kept many of his memories alive but mostly unavailable.
That's how Ptolemy imagined the disposition of his memories, his thoughts: they were still his, still in the range of his thinking, but they were, many and most of them, locked on the other side of a close door that he'd lost the key for. So his memory became like secrets held away from his own mind. But those secrets were noisy things; they babbled and muttered behind the door, and so if he listened closely he might catch a snatch of something he once knew well."
All Ptolemy wants is enough clarity to tie up the loose ends of his life.
Enter Robyn, a young girl who looks past the clutter of his home and sees the man he is.
Their unlikely relationship gives him the strength to move forward.
To what lengths would you go to keep your mind sharp?

- Tricia Ambrose

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