Joe Allston is a retired literary agent who is, in his own words, “killing time before time gets around to killing me.” His parents and his only son are long dead, leaving him with neither ancestors nor descendants, tradition nor ties. His job, trafficking the talent of others, had not been his choice. He passes through life as a spectator.
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A postcard from a friend causes him to return to the journals of a trip he had taken with his wife twenty years before, a journey to his mother’s birthplace, where he’d sought a link with the past. The memories of that trip, both grotesque and poignant, read aloud to his wife so she too can reminisce, move through layers of time and meaning and reveal that Joe Allston isn’t quite spectator enough.
This portrait of a husband and wife’s marriage and a son’s pursuit of his mother’s memory is a literary masterpiece.