Archives for dying

A poem to read in the bath… ‘Japanese Maple’

Most of us came to Australian broadcaster Clive James via his witty television programmes and writings. In recent years he has turned again to poetry. It is four years now since he was diagnosed with ‘the lot’: with leukaemia, emphysema and kidney failure. Now his poetry is full of dying – reflections on life and death – and the poems are beautiful and incredibly moving. ‘Japanese Maple’ is about a tree, given to him by his daughter, and how witnessing the tree change through autumn signals a change for him. I defy you to listen to this, and not have moist eyes. Because of copyright restrictions I am unable to reproduce the poem in full, but please search it out in an anthology or at your local library. ‘Japanese Maple’ Your death, near now, is of an easy sort. So slow a fading out brings no real pain. Breath growing short Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain Of energy, but thought and sight remain: Click here to listen to Clive James read ‘Japanese Maple’ for the BBC. For recent poems by Clive James, visit his website here. Listen here to Clive James talk about ‘taking life slowly’ [Interview: Radio
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Categories: Book Love, On Writing and Poetry.

Book review: The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes

Rabbit is dying of breast cancer and this is her life story. Anna McPartlin has written the story of Rabbit’s last few days, in a hospice, surrounded by family and friends. And it is the story of her life. It will make you laugh and cry, tossing your emotions around like a washing machine on spin cycle. I loved it. It’s an interesting story to read, from an author’s point of view, as we know what happens. The title tells us that this is the story of Rabbit’s last days, therefore she is going to die at the end. But this doesn’t matter a jot, as we see her life in flashbacks. I liked the character so much I wanted to read about her. It is at times irreverent, it will make you laugh out loud – especially at the scene which involves Rabbit sleeping, her mother, and a priest – and it will bring a tear to the eye as the future of Rabbit’s daughter hangs in the balance. Will she stay in Ireland, or go abroad? To find out more about Anna McPartlin, click here for her website. Read my review of Somewhere Inside of Happy, also by Anna
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Categories: Book Love.

Book Review: The Quarry

I started reading this book with my emotions running high, knowing Iain Banks had completed it so near to death. But I determined to be fair, not to like it just because he died. But I did like it. A lot. The story is full of imagery: the quarry, the actual hole in the ground is the unknown faced by the two key characters: Guy, who is facing death; and his son Kit, who faces life without his father. Both stand on the edge of emptiness. Kit is the key narrator. Described as ‘a bit odd’ and ‘socially disabled’, I liked him straight away. As often with a young narrator, the author puts words of wisdom into the words of an innocent. Perhaps Kit has more self-awareness than his elders. He is certainly an innocent who is learning quickly. The action takes place over one weekend, the limited timespan and setting in the house and edge of quarry give it the feeling of a stage play at times. A group of friends gathers at Guy’s house, to spend time with him as he dies. But there is always a feeling that the adults want something from Kit, that no-one is being
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Categories: Book Love.