DIARY OF AN OLD MAN by Chaim Bermant


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If you live 100 years, that's 5,200 weeks and, according to young Chaim Bermant, the first 4,368 weeks are the hardest. At diary's end of this novel, 84-year-old Cyril is chirpier than he's felt in decades. One reason is that his best friend George, another octogenarian, has just died and Cyril inexplicably doesn't feel a sliver of sadness (until a week later). Cyril is a Londoner who lives in a ratty old room he's come to love. His two-burner gas stove is a great companion. The highlights of Cycil's day are his morning library visit with George and sipping tea to ""Choral Evensong"" on the wireless. Occasionally, Cyril will lose his way only a block from his boardinghouse, and twice a week he and George accompany each other to the clinic to have George's bladder and Cyril's game log rebolstered. Their conversation runs to quite funny inanities about longevity, the times, and why they've outlived all their friends and relatives. Cyril's wife died over thirty years ago and he can barely remember her, though memories do return. Probably what kills George is the death of his beloved rubber plant, which he only survives by a few weeks. The novel's climax, the murder of Cyril's slatternly housekeeper, is reminiscent of Joyce Cary's humor and the whole is carried off with cheerful compassion that is never morbid. Unwillingly, though, the reader experiences some pretty grim personal reflections.

Pub Date: May 4th, 1967
Publisher: Holt, Rinchart & Winston