Tag Archives: Walter Mosley

Book Review: The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley (3/5)

10 Mar

I’m not sure why I decided to read this book. A friend liked it on Goodreads but I have a lot of friends who like a lot of books on Goodreads every day, so why this one? Probably because I liked the name Ptolemy. It’s a pretty awesome name you have to admit. Anyway, I”m glad I added it and snagged a copy because I really enjoyed the book.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley

Summary from Goodreads:

Ptolemy Grey is ninety-one years old and has been all but forgotten-by his family, his friends, even himself-as he sinks into a lonely dementia. His grand-nephew, Ptolemy’s only connection to the outside world, was recently killed in a drive-by shooting, and Ptolemy is too suspicious of anyone else to allow them into his life. until he meets Robyn, his niece’s seventeen-year-old lodger and the only one willing to take care of an old man at his grandnephew’s funeral.

But Robyn will not tolerate Ptolemy’s hermitlike existence. She challenges him to interact more with the world around him, and he grasps more firmly onto his disappearing consciousness. However, this new activity pushes Ptolemy into the fold of a doctor touting an experimental drug that guarantees Ptolemy won’t live to see age ninety- two but that he’ll spend his last days in feverish vigor and clarity. With his mind clear, what Ptolemy finds-in his own past, in his own apartment, and in the circumstances surrounding his grand-nephew’s death-is shocking enough to spur an old man to action, and to ensure a legacy that no one will forget.

I won’t lie, it was tempting to give up on this book at first. Ptolemy’s contribution to the narration is really disjointed due to his dementia so I couldn’t follow his train of thought until he started to regain his memory. After that, it was very enjoyable. I was a little bothered by the relationship between Ptolemy and Robyn. It seemed really strange to me and even more strange when Robyn said she’d had a similar experience with another older man before. What about this 17-year-old is so emotionally attractive to an old man? And how is she okay with this? I’ll never understand that.

I thought Ptolemy’s dementia was very credible. One of the books I’m writing deals with a character with Alzheimer’s and Ptolemy fit all of the things I have read about. He also reminded me a bit of my 94-year-old grandpa, who is starting to lose his memory a bit much like Ptolemy. I also thought Ptolemy’s family was very accurately portrayed and I liked that they were all very different from each other. Reggie was the good guy, Neicy was selfish, and Hilly was selfish like his mother. Nina was an idiot and the children were innocent. Maybe not the family everyone wants, but Ptolemy made the best of it.

Shirley Wring was my favorite character. When we met her, she needed money and wasn’t afraid to ask for a favor. She wasn’t a beggar and proved that when she offered to give Ptolemy her ring to ensure she repaid her debt. She was a very positive influence on Ptolemy and a good friend for him to have in his last days. I wish Robyn had liked her more so she could have been around more often. Even though the book was set in LA, it reminded me of my native Detroit at times.

It was hard for me to relate to the characters. I’ve never had to take care of an older relative like Robyn does and I’ve never lost a loved one to an act of violence like Reggie. I’ve never developed a strong bond with an adoptive family member like Roby and Ptolemy had. This book had a lot of elements to me that were very strange but I think that’s what I liked about it. I learned a lot from reading this book. It reminded me a bit of the Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino which is an amazing movie if you haven’t seen it yet.

I liked the end of the book best and I’m going to talk about why so if you haven’t read this book, don’t read the rest of this paragraph. I liked that Ptolemy achieved his goal. He was able to help his family and use Coy’s money to benefit the black community. He avenged the death of the one man he loved most. He had lived such a long life and was able to end it the way he wanted to instead of cooped up in a bed and not aware of who he was. I think that’s what we all want.

The relationship between Robyn and Ptolemy was the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around. On the surface, it sounds like an Anna Nicole Smith story, but being inside it we know it’s a lot more than that. I think that ‘a lot more’ part is what really got to me. I can understand falling in love quickly, but falling in love with someone 73 years your junior is a bit far. At times, they seemed to have a father/daughter love and at other times it seemed romantic. I thought it was inconsistent. And finding out that Robyn had met another man who had felt the same way about her before was too much for me. I couldn’t wrap my mind around their relationship.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Dominic Hoffman. I thought he did an okay job at narrating this book. There wasn’t a lot of variation in voice between the characters, but the book was written in such a way that it was very clear who was talking at all times. I liked that he used a slower cadence to go through the book because Ptolemy was an older man living in a slower world. I would listen to another book narrated by him.

Walter Mosley Image via CNN.com

Walter Mosley
Image via CNN.com

As someone who has grandparents older than Ptolemy (94 and 92!), this book spoke to me a lot about remembering our elders and caring for them properly. Since my grandparents live far away from me, I’m not able to see them often but I’m really lucky that my uncle and many of my cousins live close by. I see pictures on Facebook of them having lunch together and I know they get our Christmas presents each year. I wish I could be more like Robyn for them, but I know my Uncle Ken is there.

I also think the book was talking about living up to our promises. Ptolemy made Robyn promise a lot of things to him before he died the same way Coy made Ptolemy make a lot of promises. If either fail to live up to their promises, they’re betraying the generation before them. For promises to work, they have to out-live us.

Writer’s Takeaway: The unreliable narrator is a tricky thing to pull off. I think Mosley does it well. I knew most of the time that Ptolemy was dreaming or confused but I couldn’t always trust what he said because of the confusion. The narration wasn’t completely limited to Ptolemy and that helped it make more sense to the reader. Seeing Ptolemy regain his consciousness was a good touch because it was a relief as a reader to get out of the unreliable string of questions. I liked the balance Mosley struck with this character.

Overall enjoyable even though it wasn’t my favorite. Three out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Book Review: The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, By Walter Mosley | Jackie Cangro

WWW Wednesday, 4-March-2015

4 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading, and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently reading:  I’m still working on my resolution to read a book in Spanish and I’ve picked La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. No movement on it this week but I keep seeing it on my bed-side table and thinking I need to get back to it.
Left BehindI’m working on my new eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. This past week was really busy and I slowed down my reading in general and didn’t get to a lot of this one, unfortunately. I hope it takes a turn soon because the action seems to have slowed.
I’m reading a physical copy of The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. It’s really great so far and I’m enjoying the story a lot. There’s nothing better than well-written historical narratives to me. They make me feel well-informed and happy at the same time.
I started a new audiobook to bide my time until my library hold comes in. My mom recommended Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell to me a while ago. She said it reminded of of Ken Follett and that got me to pick it up right away.

Recently finished: We finally finished The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway! It’s been a long journey but after a lot of driving this weekend, we finished it off. I’m glad we did and I’m hoping I remember the beginning well enough to write my review!
Ptolemy GreyI finished the audio for The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley on Friday. The story started out a little hard to read for me but by the end I was really enjoying the story. I’m glad I read this one. Review coming soon.
On Monday night, I spent an hour or so going through The (Forgotten) Rules of Expectations written by my good friend, Nicole M. Jacob. This is a great little collection of poetry and if you’re a fan, I recommend this read.

Only one review written last week, but it seems to have been a really popular one; Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I adored the book and it seems a lot of you did, too!

Reading Next: I’m still waiting to read The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. The woman who owns the copy went on vacation but just got back and gave our other member a copy. I’ll see how long until I get a hold of it.
Round HouseMy book club’s next selection is The Round House by Louise Erdrich. I have the audiobook on hold and I hope to start it soon!

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 25-February-2015

25 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading, and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently reading:  Again, no movement on The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. It’s been a long time on this one and my husband and I have talked about finishing it separately because we haven’t had a lot of car rides together. I think I might take it on after I finish Ptolemy Grey. Hopefully that can be soon.
SombraOne of my resolutions this year was to read a book in Spanish and I’ve picked La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I’ve gotten through a bit of this one this week, but not too much. It’s what I pick up between other books. I’ll get it by the end of the year.
I’m working on my new eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. I’ve made better progress than I expected on this one, it’s really interesting. I’ve heard the series is really long and I’m not sure if I’ll finish all of them, but I’m enjoying this first installment.
My audiobook is The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley. I’m liking the story more as I go. It was hard to follow at first but I’m getting better at figuring it out and I like a lot of the characters. It’s not going to end well, but I still like the journey.
My book club met Monday and I got our next title, The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. I’m not too far in it yet, but the topic seems really interesting and I’m excited to read more. Come back Friday for a preview.

ZeitounRecently finished: I sped through Zeitoun by Dave Eggers last week. The story was really interesting and I’m still a little nervous to look into the recent news about Zeitoun. I want to like him and I heard the news will change my mind.

I got through two book reviews last week. The first was The Diviners by Libba Bray which I really enjoyed. I’ll look forward to the next installment of the series. The second was Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat. Our book club discussion on that title was this past Monday so I’ll have a book club reflection up soon.

White TigerReading Next: The girls at work and I are going to be reading The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga soon. I’ll be getting it a few weeks and I’ll have to squeeze it in between book club books but I’m determined to get it in. It sounds like a good one.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 18-February-2015

18 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading, and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Sun Also RisesCurrently reading:  No movement on The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. We had house guests this weekend so the hubby and I didn’t have much lone driving time. I’m antsy to finish this so I hope to soon. I think we only have one disk left!
One of my resolutions this year was to read a book in Spanish and I’ve picked La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I might have read five pages, so slow-going is an understatement here. It’s a good story, I just don’t have the time to really devote to the book and get through it.
I’m working on my new eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. I’ve read four chapters so it’s slow, but the book’s keeping my interest well. I’ll be interested to see how the movie adaptation is because this one is quite religious and I’m not sure they’d keep that for a mass-release movie but I hope they kept to the book.
My book club book for March is Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. I’ve read two Eggers books before and loved both of them. I really like this one so far and I’m reading it faster than expected. I’ve heard that there’s some controversy about the main subject, but I’m avoiding it until I finish the book and can form my own opinions.
My new audiobook is The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley. The book is mostly written from the point of view of a man with dementia so it’s a bit hard to follow at times but it’s really interesting to follow his train of thought. I’ll have to see how I feel when I get farther into this one.

EleanorRecently finished:I finished Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell on audio. I LOVED IT but had a problem with the ending (typical Rowell reaction from me). I’ll go over it in my review so look forward to that one.

I’ve published two reviews, Doomsday Book by Connie Willis and The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, which was Read Along #3. Look for Read-Along #4, probably in March or April!

Atomic CityReading Next:  On Monday I’ll get my next book club selection, The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. We usually do one non-fiction every six months and this one looks like a great choice!

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Recently Added to my To-Read List

10 Jan

I had to go really far back in my blog to find the last time I did one of these posts! Like always, let me know if I’ve got a dud or a winner. I love to hear from you all.

  1. The Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. If I saw this book on my ‘Recommended for You’ list one more time, I was going to scream. So I added it. The story follows a strange girl living in Prague who’s swept into a strange tale involving the devil. Yes, the description is vague, but I’ll still read it.
  2. Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. I was talking to a friend about book series and he said that this is the only one he’s ever read. So I’m intrigued. It’s a series of Christian books about those left behind after the apocalypse.
  3. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. I just finished reading On Writing and in it, King recommends that all fledgling writers read this book. I bow to the King in this matter
  4. Pope Francis Speaks to our Hearts. This was a small gift from a friend around the holidays. I got it because I was the only Catholic besides my husband and he got the book on beer. It’s a lot of short quotes from Francis (which might be a little mature into his term, but hey).
  5. The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley. A friend of mine commented on Goodreads that she couldn’t put this book down because it was so good. I hope I feel the same. Grey is an old man who has shut himself off from the world. His new caretaker pushes him to interact with the world he’s missing instead of living the rest of his life in the walls of his home. I recommended this one for my book club, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it’s picked.
  6. Everything is Connected by Keri Smith. This was a gift from SG at our NaNoel party. I love postcards and this book is a series of postcards, much like the author’s other work, “Wreck This Book.”
  7. Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich. This was a gift from Nicole at our holiday party. It’s a guide that can be used to play a workshop or to workshop alone. I’ll see which one I feel like doing, haha.

There you go! Have you read any of these? Any of them sound exciting or terrible? Let me know, Reader!

Until next time, write on.