The End of the Alphabet – CS Richardson

Posted 12 June, 2012 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 18 Comments


Title: The End of the Alphabet
Author: CS Richardson
Published: 2007; Pages: 119
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4/5

In Short: Ambrose Zephyr, a middle aged ad man, learns that he only has 30 days to live. Maybe more, maybe less. In an effort to make the most of his remaining days, he and his wife Zipper travel to different cities based on the letters of the alphabet.

Why I read it: The End of the Alphabet was selected for my work book club. I hadn’t heard of it before but it has a pretty cover and is short! Me likey.

Thoughts in General: I was a little nervous when I started this book because I had heard some negative comments from coworkers who finished it before I did. One evening I happened to have some time to myself so I headed to Starbucks and sat down with the little book. I devoured a third of it in one sitting, immediately falling in love with Ambrose and Zipper and their quirky story. The story moves back and forth between the present—with Ambrose learning of his sudden illness—and the past including memories of childhood and Ambrose and Zipper’s meeting and early romance.

This is a simple book, which I guess is to be expected with the length, but it packed so much emotion and feeling into every page. I felt the unspoken pain of Zipper as she prepared for her husband’s death, I felt the inability of Ambrose to voice his emotions and fears. I felt their love and their frustrations and their desire and sorrow. But not only was it an emotional read but it was also a stimulating one as well. Richardson has such a way with descriptions and being able to communicate the subjects that aren’t easy to convey and I know that I could read this little book again and glean so much more from every flashback, every conversation, every breakdown.

Bottom Line: I recommend this little book, but I feel like I must do so with some reservations. The length was too short—there was so much more I wanted to know and understand by the end of the novel. But on the other hand I think it’s one of those that is meant to exist mostly in your own imagination. Leaving just enough blanks for you to fill them in how you wish. Most of our bookclub members enjoyed the book and felt passionate about the characters and writing like I did. If you read this one I hope you enjoy it—it packs a big punch for a short 120 pages.

Have you read this one?

Are you off-put by short novellas? Do you feel they can be as effective as longer books?

18 Responses to “The End of the Alphabet – CS Richardson”

  1. I haven’t read this one, and I am not put off by short novellas. I likey too. Particularly if it’s a book club thingy. It’s so hard to choose a book everyone will enjoy. Have a good week.

  2. I like that cover too! A book that’s too short? Doesn’t seem to happen too often :) Sounds like a good read!

  3. I like when books allow me to use my imagination and fill in some blanks, too. Having everything cut and dried, spelled out to a T? That gets boring for me. I like the sound of this one!

  4. *Irene – It definitely is tough to choose a book club book that everyone enjoys but honestly I think sometimes some disagreement leads to better discussion!

    *Laura – The paperback cover is a little more romantic–but I do like this one a lot! And I’ll admit that finishing this book in three days felt AWESOME. It’s been a long time since that happened!

    *Meg – This one definitely leaves a lot up for the imagination, which really works for me as well. I do wish that the length had been just a little longer…

    *Vivienne – It’s an interesting/quirky little book. If you get to it I hope you enjoy it!

  5. I don’t think I’ve heard of this one before but it sounds like it was meant to inspire thought and contemplation. That’s one thing that I like about novellas — they present ideas and you get to flesh them out in any way that your life experience leads you.

  6. I haven’t read any short novellas, as far as I can remember, so I can’t really comment on that. I guess I would enjoy the shorter length of a novella once in a while.

    This book sounds interesting. I shall check it out here. Thanks for the recommendation.

    PS: This book reminded me of Elizabeth Noble’s Alphabet Weekends. I loved that one! Have you read it?

  7. You read it! You read it! *jumping up and down* I love this book! It’s one of my favorites. If I ever have another daughter, I’ll probably name her Zaphora!

  8. This does sound good. I’m not sure how I feel about novellas. In theory, I think it could work, but I’ve never read a novella that I really liked. It just doesn’t seem to allow enough time to get acquainted with the characters. On the other hand, I enjoy short stories. Go figure.

  9. I enjoyed the novella when I read it. I enjoy Novellas, for the most part I find the authors do the stories justice and gives you a well developed read. So I’m not put off by them at all.

  10. Never heard of it but sounds interesting. Novellas don’t put me off, because there are some real gems out there. I just need to be in the mood.
    Wonderful review!

  11. *bermudaonion – I agree about books that leave you wanting more. Seems strange but they work for me too!

    *softdrink – Ha!! Well, at least it was short, right?

    *theteatimereader – It would only take you a few hours to read The End of the Alphabet so no big loss if you don’t enjoy it.

    *Kristen M. – Don’t you just love books that inspire thought and contemplation. I agree about the novellas but also short stories seem to do the same. I should read more of them!

    *thegalnxtdoor – There are some really beautiful novellas and you might be surprised that you may have read some of them! But…sometimes they can feel too short. I haven’t read Alphabet Weekends but will have to look into it!

    *Vasilly – I wondered if I would come across any other bloggers who read this one! I had never heard of it before it was picked for our book club. Zaphora is gorgeous but I really liked Zipper, too.

    *Jules – You have to think that authors write novellas instead of novels for a reason–just as a short story is short for a reason. I haven’t read many novellas but most of the ones I’ve read I’ve enjoyed. Do you have any favorites?

    *Stephanie – Now that’s interesting that you enjoy short stories but not novellas! I think that for me the novellas work a bit better than short stories because you do get more but honestly it’s been a long time since I’ve regularly read either.

    *Jenny Girl – I know what you mean about being in the mood for a novella. I’m the same way with short stories as well. If you come across this one, pick it up!

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