A Almost

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Pub Date 01 Mar 2022 | Archive Date 02 Mar 2022

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Description

'He is ready to talk about her, his daughter. He is ready in a way. In a way.' When a teenage girl dies in a car accident while returning home from school, her father is left to deal with his grief. Sent home from work for the crime of showing his emotions in front of strangers, he cannot bring himself to utter his unspoken thoughts of guilt and blame – not even to his wife. Alienated from the world and, to some degree, his own mind, and with his marriage slowly collapsing, the man starts to consider his grief. In lyrical prose, Ami Rao experiments with language to explore grief, one of the most complex of human emotions. Inspired by the essays of Roland Barthes, this fragmented and philosophical novella is deeply moving.

'He is ready to talk about her, his daughter. He is ready in a way. In a way.' When a teenage girl dies in a car accident while returning home from school, her father is left to deal with his grief...


Advance Praise

'Strikingly original, bold and brave, Almost is a beautifully crafted story of love and loss.’ – Alan Robert Clark, author of The Prince of Mirrors and Valhalla

‘Complex, challenging and deeply moving, Ami Rao’s experimental novella, Almost, captures the raw grief of a father’s loss in a unique and truthful way; it stayed with me long after I’d finished reading.’ – Mish Cromer, author of Alabama Chrome

'Strikingly original, bold and brave, Almost is a beautifully crafted story of love and loss.’ – Alan Robert Clark, author of The Prince of Mirrors and Valhalla

‘Complex, challenging and deeply...


Available Editions

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ISBN 9781912054336
PRICE $15.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 12 members


Featured Reviews

I was going to write a gushing review of this book however I feel I should write my review in the manner the book is written in.

I was worried this book was going to be a bit abstract and high brow however I was glad to be proven wrong.

It was simplistic in the most satisfying way.

Beautiful. Heartbreaking. Honest.

Thank you to the author, Netgalley and Fairlight Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review

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A beautiful and heartbreaking study of grief. Whilst the prose at times feels sparse it is lyrical and filled with grace and dignity. This novella has stayed with me long after reading.

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Almost, by Ami Rao, is a short but powerful contemplation of grief and, through grief, life and love themselves. The use of quotes from Roland Barthes, in a type of conversation with the protagonist, works very well.

First, what this is not. It is not about how a grieving poetry professor uses theory in his grieving process, though there is nothing at all inconsistent with how he does so. This is not a tangential connection to Barthes because of how he died but, from that springboard, the use of Barthes' reflections on mourning and love to illuminate some of the protagonist's internal processes. If the reader is familiar with Barthes and his work, particularly A Lover's Discourse and Mourning Diary, one will likely appreciate the use of the quotes. But even if one has never read Barthes the quotes still serve to shift thought and perspective throughout.

On those quotes: while some have a fairly clear relationship with what comes before and/or after many take a little thought to find what commentary they might make on the surrounding sections. Some may not click with you, some perhaps after you have moved on. Most, I believe, will add texture to the reader's appreciation of the protagonist's grief.

Surprise, surprise, even with the specific story being told the general process of grieving still follows the well-documented process of grief and mourning. So yes, some parts will be a little "predictable," but if they hadn't been, the story would not have been realistic. Grief, as different as it is for each person, is still very similar as well. I'm glad that some apparently have never grieved and thus wants to be surprised by how a person grieves. But they wanted a fantasy and this is not fantasy.

One nice side effect of the literary frame and references throughout is that it prompts the reader to make their own connections. Most evident is the use of the quotes, they are specific enough to lend themselves to the sections around them but also general enough for a reader to make other connections, perhaps with things in their own lives, and take a short mental trip down that path before coming back to the story. Another example is how some of the thoughts the protagonist has, especially those that relate directly to the more common elements of the grieving process, will remind readers of other works of literature. One poem that came to mind for me several times was 'Surprised By Joy' from William Wordsworth.

I would highly recommend this to readers who don't mind inhabiting a mind during the grieving process. It is not what I would consider a horribly depressing book even though it tackles a very difficult time in the protagonist's life. I found it more melancholy than depressing.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.

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