The End of the Alphabet
By Cs Richardson
(Broadway Books, Paperback, 9780767927635, 128pp.)
Publication Date: September 2, 2008
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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Ambrose Zephyr is a contented man. He shares a book-laden Victorian house with his loving wife, Zipper. He owns two suits, one of which he was married in. He is a courageous eater, save brussels sprouts. His knowledge of wine is vague and best defined as Napa, good; Australian, better; French, better still. Kir royale is his drink of occasion. For an Englishman he makes a poor cup of tea. He believes women are quantifiably wiser than men, and would never give Zipper the slightest reason to mistrust him or question his love. Zipper simply describes Ambrose as the only man she has ever loved. Without adjustment.
Then, just as he is turning fifty, Ambrose is told by his doctor that he has one month to live. Reeling from the news, he and Zipper embark on a whirlwind expedition to the places he has most loved or has always longed to visit, from A to Z, Amsterdam to Zanzibar. As they travel to Italian piazzas, Turkish baths, and other romantic destinations, all beautifully evoked by the author, Zipper struggles to deal with the grand unfairness of their circumstances as she buoys Ambrose with her gentle affection and humor. Meanwhile, Ambrose reflects on his life, one well lived, and comes to understand that death, like life, will be made bearable by the strength and grace of their devotion.
Richardson’s lovely prose comes alive with an honesty and intensity that will leave you breathless and inspired by the simple beauty and power of love. The End of the Alphabet is a timeless, resonant exploration of the nature of love, loss, and life.
CS Richardson has worked in publishing for more than twenty years. He has received the Alcuin Award (Canada’s highest honor for excellence in book design) several times, and lectures frequently on various facets of publishing, design, and communication. He lives in Toronto, Canada.
1. The book opens with an epigraph by Elizabeth Bishop, excerpted from her poem "Questions of Travel": "Think of the long trip home/ Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?/ Where should we be today?" What do you think of this choice for an epigraph? Why is it significant? Look up the original poem if you wish. Is CS Richardson influenced by other aspects of this poem?
“The End of the Alphabet is a dazzling exercise in understatement.” —People
“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, author of Incendiary