This week’s prompt involves one of my favorite holidays of the year, Valentine’s Day. To celebrate bloggers can write about anything related to love. When I first read this prompt, I instantly thought of one of my favorite love stories ever – CS Richardson’s The End of the Alphabet. I ended up rereading the novella yesterday so I can write about it from a fresh perspective.
I first read The End of the Alphabet a few years ago. I can’t remember what initially made me pick the book up but ever since the first time I read it, I’ve been rereading it almost every year.
It’s the story of Ambrose Zephyr, a man who’s living this ordinary life when he finds out that he’s sick and has less than a month to live. It sounds sad and the book is sad in some parts but this is a book more about living than dying. Given the bad news about his health, Ambrose decides that he wants to spend the last month of his living traveling with his wife Zappora “Zipper” Ashkenazi.
The alphabet that the title talks about is the alphabetical list that Ambrose makes of all the places he wants to travel to. From Amsterdam to Florence, Hafifa to Osaka, there are so many places that Ambrose wants to see. But if the disease is as fast as the doctors say, the pair might not make it to the last place of the list.
I love that this story is sparse. Richardson gives readers just enough information about the characters and their lives without weighing the story down with detail. Here’s one of my favorite passages in the book when Ambrose and Zipper meet for a second time:
Ambrose would later admit to a nagging sensation of having seen this Ms. Ashkenazi before. How he could not place her, but that her handshake felt small, warm, a touch damp. How he could not take his eyes off her. And how, more than once, he had narrowed his gaze to watch her, topless, eating tapas on a beach in Spain. She might have been twenty, maybe twenty-one years old. It was hard to see clearly, Ambrose would explain, what with the sun and the heat and the glare off the sea.
Zipper had an equally odd feeling throughout the meeting. She thought, but couldn’t be sure, that she knew the slightly handsome man in the corner who said nothing. (What she never mentioned to anyone was the pleasant hum she felt as Ambrose spent the meeting trying not to glance at her breasts. Or that she found his periodic squint boyishly charming.)
The End of the Alphabet is a small yet satisfying read.
Pub. Year: 2007
Are there any love stories that you love to read over and over again?