Live A Little

By Megan Thomas

I really loved the simplicity of Live A Little’s plot in contrast to the intricacy of its language and characterisation.

The story centres around two old people from North London. Both have 90 years of (mis)adventure, guilt and shame behind them, and yet in the frailty of their remaining years they are able to find something that resembles love.

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Beryl stitches tapestries of morbid jokes and gives her carers grief, grasping at anecdotes from her life as they slip from her head with increasing speed. Shimi maps his walking routes to match up with the public toilets and his weakening bladder, and reads cartomancy cards at the Chinese restaurant he lives above, desperately trying to forget the sins of his past in spite of his impeccable memory. All the while, Howard Jacobson is stitching tapestries of life at its grittiest, its least glamorous, its most real.

I’ve seen a couple of negative reviews of the book, which really shocked me: I wonder how anyone can read this without having their heart cracked open, prodded around in, and then embroidered back together again.

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