Sep 10 2008
Dear Mr. Richardson,
Jane usually gets most of the arcs and reading copies of the books sent to us by publishers. Then she emails us and we put in our dibs for certain books and she mails them out. The post office must know Jane well by now based on the number of times she must trudge down there to stand in line and support the USPS.
Your book was in my latest shipment from Jane. Amidst the ones I had asked for and ones Jane had requested for me was this slim, small volume. I stared at it, puzzled. What was this? It was, according to the back cover:
“An alphabet of the language of lovers, a beautiful fable of art and mortality: elegant, wise, and humane. I like to think of the happiness this book will bring. I’m sure it will be given as a gift between lovers, and will inspire many journeys – geographical and emotional.” — Chris Cleave
Okaaaay, I thought. But what is it? Hmmm, a captivating hour and a half read with frequent breaks to sniff and wipe away a stray tear? Yes, it’s that. A lovely view of a slightly older couple who knew almost immediately that each was the other’s one? Very much that too. A sweet, gentle book of love and loss and surviving? Most of all.
The thumbnail sketches of Ambrose and Zipper were as much a delight to read as the opening scenes of the film “Amelie.” Succinct yet telling us all we need to know about these two: how they act, what they are to each other, how they view life and have moved through it so far.
The stunning news Ambrose learns passes almost in a haze, much as it would have for him. The urgency of his need to check off his list of places is understandable for him and baffling for her. Her moments of anger as the days tick by – totally accurate for those circumstances. His sulking at times and increasing tiredness at others makes perfect sense.
The style of the writing and lack of most punctuation took me a little while to get used to but once I had the rhythm down, it was like eavesdropping on their conversations as I sat, sipping a coffee in a quiet corner of that same cafe in Florence. And of course I was wishing that the “unlikely” and “could be” would, in the end, turn out to be for Ambrose and his Zipper.
Generally when we get a “Jane” box, we know what books to expect. But every now and then, a surprise will be waiting for us when we rip off the packaging tape. Your book is one such surprise. A delightful surprise. A