Top positive review
Touching story with a most important message!
on April 8, 2014
Yesterday I reviewed David G. Hallman's first novel, Searching for Gilead. Knowing that "August Farewell" was about the last couple of weeks in the life of his partner, I had deliberately decided to read the novel first, hoping for a happier ending than the title of "August Farewell" suggests. Oh well, little did I know that the novel was greatly inspired by the real life of David and Bill, starting and ending almost the same way.
How do you review a real life story? An account of facts? I gave "Searching for Gilead" four stars, so I'll give this five. Here's why. Where the novel didn't engage me emotionally until the final chapters, I was in tears before having ended the first chapter. The language is much less pretentious, the storytelling is more direct and matter-of-factly as befits this sort of story.
Now why would anyone read the story of the last few days in the life of a complete stranger? A painful couple hundred pages?
I did it to get a more rounded picture of David and his writing, to understand his driving force (and hoping he'll produce more), but more than that, the novel gives a very rare glimpse into the future of my own life, in fact, glimpses I've already seen (having already lost and buried four of our six parents - long story)
I'm really grateful to be twelve years Alex' senior. At the same time, this very prospect scares the hell out of me (pardon the expression, as the atheist doesn't believe in either hell nor heaven for that matter, the latter which seems to have brought Bill and David alike so much solace) The thought of ending up in Bill's situation with Alex having to care for me is hard to stomach, and while things seemed to have happened very quickly for them, it makes me think about our own future, how would we tackle that? Fly to Switzerland and make a discreet exit with Exit? Or hang on to dear life for Alex and the kids' sake? Eventually I hope that Alex gets to read this book so that we can start to talk about this.
I am having these discussions with my father, and I find it reassuring to find him open to talking about this. He seems to be searching for some sort of faith (which is an omnipresent topic throughout the book), having lost his many years ago, me replacing faith with rationale and my humanistic beliefs ages ago. We talk about services and what not, how he wants his farewell party to be handled.
"August Farewell: The Last Sixteen Days of a Thirty-Three-Year Romance" is a great book for any couple approaching middle-age or maybe just having gotten through it. It should open up lines of communication about life, death and how to tackle it gracefully, compassionately and with love. Having said that, it's also a reminder to "carpe diem", to seize the day, to make the most of every single day we have together with our loved ones. Because even though sixteen days sounds like very little, sometimes we're awarded even less. Keep that in mind!
Thank you David for the intimate glimpse into the final days of your marriage to Bill, for allowing us to partake of the lessons and the wisdom of your journey together.