This book was a micro.blog book-recommendation-week recommendation. Many of the recommended books were "hey look, my god is better than your god" books, which are less than remotely interesting to me, and I would say actively off-putting. This one was recommended by a reader who reads a lot and has thoughtful reviews (unlike my reviews here which more more "how I came upon this book and did I like it"), so I picked it up.
The blurb on the back of the book is pretty accurate. Roy Valois is an accomplished artist, finds out he has maybe four months to live, and seeks a peek at his obituary. Apparently obituaries are pre-written for sufficiently famous people (which lends momentum to the idea that maybe everyone should write their own obituaries, see how that works out), and, according to this (fiction) book, the New York Times is sufficiently easy enough to hack into that you can read them.
What follows is the death of a couple people, followed by the not-so-great investigating of said deaths, followed by twists and turns and a very strange ending (that fits, is just ... odd).
I can't tell if this book is an early book by Abrahams (there are three Peter Abrahams authors at quick count, pick one), but I'm not a fan. I didn't like the writing style. Didn't click. I was mostly annoyed at Roy's actions, like he was a little dumb and emotionally stunted. I don't know, maybe it was something else.
If you're trying to read all of Abrahams' works, sure, read this one. Maaaaybe it is desert island material, but not really. Skip it.
Instead he dragged the shiny cone to the center of the floor, not far from Delia, and just looked at it for a while. Sometimes he got ideas that way. Not now. The blurry image of a delicate, attenuated silence that had been in his mind refused to grow clearer. He pulled up a stool, got out his sketch pad and a soft pencil. Nothing happened at first. Roy was used to that, had learned patience in his work. No hurry: that was what he always told himself.
People died on the highway every day, passing from normal life, through terror, to nothing.
He’d always liked shoveling snow—the full-body rhythm, the squeak the blade sometimes made digging in, the shovel loads holding their shapes for brief moments in the air. Some guys did a sloppy job of it, moving just enough snow to free their cars, but not Roy—he always made sure there was no loose snow, left the ground hardpacked, the banks squared at their bases, all angles right angles.
This reminds me of Jonathan.
"And remember Picasso’s warning.”
“What warning was that?”
“Don’t become your own connoisseur.” Wisdom, the kind that actually shifted the mind around at one stroke, revealed what needed revealing: you didn’t come across it.
"You’re thinking Washington and Lincoln,” he said.
“Pretty clear that those days are long gone. We’re in a late Roman phase, just scratching and clawing to hold on.”
“Hold on to what?” Roy said.
“Why, global power, naturally,” said Truesdale. “And the wealth and influence that comes from it.”
At that moment, Roy stopped being afraid of what might happen next. It took no effort at all, simply happened, a sudden ascent into courage, or at least total fearlessness, probably not the same thing.
Roy closed his eyes. Turned out that death didn’t simplify your life. How many people had been in a position to learn that one?
He turned and nodded.
“Hey,” said Freddy.
“This could work.”
“Why not?” Turk said, his eyes full of moonlight. “It’s a classic.”
“How’s that?” said Freddy.
“From Homer,” Turk said.
Freddy shrugged. “Don’t have time for TV.”
Life could be sweet.
I laughed at this. They were going in Trojan Horse, and the not-so-clued-in one thought Homer meant Simpson.