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The Resource Live a little : a novel, Howard Jacobson

Live a little : a novel, Howard Jacobson

Label
Live a little : a novel
Title
Live a little
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Howard Jacobson
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
At the age of ninety-something, Beryl Dusinbery is forgetting everything - including her own children. Her tongue, meanwhile, remains as sharp as ever. She spends her days stitching macabre messages into her needlework and tormenting her two long-suffering carers with tangled stories of her love affairs. Shimi Carmelli can do up his own buttons, get around without the aid of a walking frame, and speak without spitting. Among the widows of North London, he's whispered about as the last of the eligible bachelors. Unlike Beryl, he forgets nothing - especially not the shame of a childhood incident that has hung over him ever since. There's very little life remaining for either of them, but perhaps just enough to heal some of the hurt inflicted along the way and find new meaning in what's left. Could this be their chance to live a little?
Storyline
Writing style
Review
  • Nonagenarians Beryl Dusinberry and Shimi Carmelli cope with their hopefully not-too imminent demise in their own separate ways. When asked to describe her life, the oft-married and well-loved Beryl is at a loss for words, literally. Her failing memory has her grasping for just the right bon mot to describe a lover, an enemy, a spouse, even an estranged child. Shimi’s problem is just the opposite. He can’t seem to forget anything: a name, a face, an encounter, or, most problematically, the shame he felt as a young child, constantly tormented by his slightly younger brother, Ephraim. That the two senior citizens find each other in their dotage is serendipitous. That they discover they share not only a neighborhood but a past is shocking, bordering on scandalous, but, ultimately, surprisingly satisfying. Jacobson (J, 2014) is more than kind to his cantankerous heroine and circumspect hero. He imbues them with a pathos, a vibrancy, a joie de vivre that is delightful and enlightening. A charming romp and wise meditation on timeless love. -- Carol Haggas (Reviewed 8/1/2019) (Booklist, vol 115, number 22, p22)
  • Booker-winner Jacobson’s latest is a deliciously entertaining, rollicking dark comedy about nonagenarians searching for meaning while confronting their deepest fears. Beryl Dusinbery has survived countless marriages and torrid love affairs yet finds herself terrified of forgetting words and being rendered incommunicative. She spends her days making elaborate needlework designs of “death samplers,” with morbid phrases (“he was born without fuss and died without fuss, slipping out of life like an oystery down an open throat. ‘That wasn’t so difficult,’ he said, and expired. No one was listening.”) while giving her caregivers a hard time. Shimi Carmelli is a 91-year-old diviner whose clients are a circle of wealthy London widows who consider him to be an eligible bachelor: he walks without an apparatus and can still dress himself. Shimi’s problem is that he suffers from an excellent memory and can’t forget anything. He remains haunted by his childhood experiment trying on his mother’s underwear and feels permanently tainted. Beryl and Shimi meet after the funeral of his brother, Ephraim, and strike up an unlikely relationship with the deceased Ephraim as their mutual connection. Together they discover a new way to live by confiding past experiences, and Shimi is shocked by how easily they can trust each other. Jacobson’s appealing tale will delight readers. (Sept.) --Staff (Reviewed 07/29/2019) (Publishers Weekly, vol 266, issue 30, p)
  • From the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Finkler Question, this work tells the tough-but-tender late-life story of the relationship between Beryl Dusinbery, who's losing her memory, and Shimi Carmelli. Shimi, considered quite the catch among North London's widows, is cursed with a memory good enough to recall the childhood incident that has darkened his life. --Barbara Hoffert (Reviewed 04/01/2019) (Library Journal, vol 144, issue 3, p54)
  • /* Starred Review */ Memories—elusive, shattered, or tormenting—are central to a tender story of unlikely love. In his 15th novel, the prolific Jacobson (Pussy, 2017, etc.) considers the debilities of very old age in a shrewd, surprising tale centered on a feisty nonagenarian who wraps herself in boas and baubles and a reticent bachelor. "Memory is a sadist," observes Mrs. Beryl Dusinbery, who styles herself the Princess, after Scheherazade, seductive teller of tales. But Beryl's tales are fragmentary and vexing: Troubling memories rise unbidden while the pleasures of her erotic past swirl mistily. "In her heyday," Jacobson's wry narrator reports, "Beryl Dusinbery had been able to drive the thought of any other woman out of a man's mind. It wasn't infidelity she conjured, it was oblivion." Now, though, oblivion threatens her, as she struggles to remember the details of her many lovers; mixes up the identities of her two grown sons and their offspring, none of whom interest her; and frustrates her two caregivers with capricious demands. At the age of 91, Shimi Carmelli, like the Princess, exudes old-world sophistication with his "air of elegant, international desolation" and refined wardrobe. Other than in his appearance, though, Carmelli stands in sharp contrast to the Princess: Formerly a seller of phrenology busts, he tells fortunes, reading cards at a local Chinese restaurant and at charity events attended by widows eager for new love. He has lived a circumscribed, solitary life, striving in every way "to remove the stain of common humanity from his person." Unlike the Princess, Carmelli is beset by remembering. "I have selective morbid hyperthymesia," he confesses, unable to forget anything, most notably a childhood transgression that has haunted his entire life. Jacobson treats with compassion the dilemma of old age, when the future seems to hold nothing more than "the same, unvarying story" and an inevitable diminishment; instead, he offers his brittle Princess and self-effacing fortuneteller a chance to discover deeply hidden capacities for kindness and caring and the inspiration, as the Princess puts it, to "risk another end." Wise, witty, and deftly crafted. (Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2019)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10805137
Cataloging source
IG$
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Jacobson, Howard
Dewey number
823/.914
Illustrations
illustrations
Index
no index present
LC call number
PR6060.A32
LC item number
L58 2019
Literary form
novels
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Older people
  • Man-woman relationships
  • Memory
  • Memory disorders in old age
  • London (England)
Target audience
adult
Label
Live a little : a novel, Howard Jacobson
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Note
"Originally published in hardcover by Jonathan Cape, an imprint of Vintage, a division of Penguin Random House UK, London, in 2019"--Title page verso
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First United States edition.
Extent
290 pages
Isbn
9781984824219
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
illustration
System control number
  • on1117343043
  • (OCoLC)1117343043
Label
Live a little : a novel, Howard Jacobson
Publication
Copyright
Note
"Originally published in hardcover by Jonathan Cape, an imprint of Vintage, a division of Penguin Random House UK, London, in 2019"--Title page verso
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First United States edition.
Extent
290 pages
Isbn
9781984824219
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
illustration
System control number
  • on1117343043
  • (OCoLC)1117343043

Library Locations

    • James City County LibraryBorrow it
      7770 Croaker Road, Williamsburg, VA, 23188, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
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