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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Book Review: What Comes Next and How to Like It by Abigail Thomas (audio)

This book was recently picked as a Great Group Read for National Reading Group Month (which is October) so I thought I'd give it a shot since the audiobook was available at my library and I love a memoir. This was more of a collection of personal essays and vignettes, in roughly chronological order, rather than a memoir I'm not sure who they were laid out on the page but a few seemed very (one sentence) short. After all the audiobook was just over 4 hours long. So I listened to the whole thing in a day.

It's about Abby's painting, her writing (less so), her adult kids, her best friend Chuck, and her second husband. For a long while I misunderstood and I thought Chuck was going to end up being her second or third husband, but no, he's just her best friend. He's a literary agent and they met while both working at a publishing house. Abby stopped working in publishing (although she's a successful writer and workshop leader) but Chuck didn't and yet they maintained their friendship for decades. They both were married and eventually they moved moved out of NYC and their kids had issues and their marriages had issues, but they stuck with each other through it all. It is interesting when some friendships are much more enduring than most marriages. Most of the book is Abby, in her early seventies, looking back on her life, and as events start to approach now, they get tougher: infidelity, a brain injury, cancer. But he gets through it all, as we pretty much all do. And that's the theme of her book: shit happens and you go on and maybe paint a painting. I can see a lot of topics for discussion but as a solo read, it was a little lightweight. She opens the door to dozens of weighty themes, but she only touches on them superficially and moves on. I wish she'd been deeper and less poetic in a lot of parts—I could have stood more depth and analysis. But the light touch seems to be her thing.

I downloaded this audiobook from Overdrive via my local library.

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