Ambrose Zephyr has spent his life playing with letters, first with antique type blocks and later at the advertising agency Dravot, Carnehan. Around his fiftieth birthday, Ambrose fails his medical exam and is told he has one month to live. Hoping to pay final visits to his favourite places, and visit a few on his must-see list, Ambrose and his wife Zappora Ashkenazi (Zipper) embark on a whirlwind trip. On their trip organized from A to Z - Amsterdam to Zanzibar - Ambrose and Zipper keep physically moving while their minds stand still at the momentous news. As their journey leads them to confront the upcoming change in the course of their lives, ultimately Ambrose and Zipper must face the final moments of their marriage.
The End of the Alphabet is the debut novel by CS Richardson, a Canadian book designer. This small gem explores two significant life issues: what makes a marriage and how someone faces their final moments. Richardson handles these age-old issues with gentleness, humour and panache, encouraging his readers to read between the letters for the words unsaid. Richardson provides no answers, allowing the tone and flavour of his tale to speak, and his readers to find their own meaning.
Richardson’s tender words are a masterpiece of balance, yin and yang, Ambrose’s A to Z to Zipper’s Z to A. Beginning and ending with the phrase “this story is unlikely,”
The End of the Alphabet is circular, reflecting back upon itself. In a dream a camel shares an essential truth with Ambrose: “There is no why…Life goes on. Death goes on. Love goes on. It is all as simple as that.”
Richardson’s skill as a book designer is clearly displayed in this small volume. Zipper buys a moleskin notebook to record their travels and the book’s jacket is the notebook, reflecting mementos of the trip - even Ambrose’s camel.
In spite of the subject matter, The End of the Alphabet is a joyful book, full of love. This is a book worthy of frequent samplings.
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Publication Date: January 23, 2007
tags: books book reviews CS Richardson relationships