“No Man Is An Island, Every Book Is A World.”
Zevin crafted a gem of a story with The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. A story of second chances, love, loss as well as community and family. The best part of this story is bookstores, their importance is monumental – specifically the independent bookstores. A.J. and his family receive eReader’s from his mother as a Christmas gift and A.J. shares his feelings clearly…
“A.J. has often reflected that, bit by bit, all the best things in the world are being carved away like fat from meat. First, it had been the record stores, and then the video stores, and then newspapers and magazines, and now even the big chain bookstores were disappearing everywhere you looked. From his point of view, the only thing worse than a world with big chain bookstores was a world with NO big chain bookstores. At least the big stores sell books and not pharmaceuticals or lumber! At least some of the people who work at those stores have degrees in English literature and know how to read and curate books for people! At least the big stores can sell ten thousand units of publisher’s dreck so that Island gets to sell one hundred units of literary fiction!
Every chapter begins with A.J. writing his feelings of a few of the best short stories which A.J. felt an affinity towards, their theme or condition is reflected in narrative. As far as a definitive narrative – there isn’t one, the plot is about people’s lives and the circumstances visiting their lives. Zevin deftly composed a narrative consuming the readers attention and sentimentality.
A.J. a man initially consumed by grief, self destructive, alone, not to mention thorny, as A.J.’s life evolves with the most unexpected surprises we see the true A.J. and his heart of gold. You understand from all the trials and hurt A.J. felt he is receiving all the goodness he deserves.
A heartfelt story causing laughter and tears, a story you will read multiple times. Zevin shines with stirring characters against a whimsical yet poignant backdrop. I found this book to be a wonderful unexpected surprise.
“We are to the things we collect, acquire, read. We are, for as long as we are here, only love. The things we loved. The people we loved. And these, I think these really do live on.”
Published April 1st 2014 by Algonquin Books (first published January 2014)
Hardcover, 258 pages