David Slavitt



There is very little action but a great deal of drama in the last days of a dying man.  We watch him and listen to him as he struggles with his life, his mortality, and his place in the world. (What else matters?) His contemplations are parallel with those of the novel (or the author?) as the book comes into being and apparently at random organizes itself, for the protagonist’s mental activity is both the subject and the form of the novel.  There is no plot but rather the gradual discovery and presentation of the tessitura of a life.

ISBN: 978-1-60489-231-4 Trade Paper, $14.95     Sale $7.50

ISBN: 978-1-60489-232-1, Hardcover, $22.95       Sale $11.50

ISBN: 2019940932, e-book, $15.95



About the Author:

Born in White Plains, NY, David R. Slavitt was educated at Andover, Yale, Columbia, and Newsweek.  When he was 30, he “lit out for the territory” (Cape Cod) and commenced as a freelance writer.  He has published 120 books: poetry, novels, criticism, and translations (from Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, Yiddish, and Portuguese).   He lives in Cambridge, MA, with his wife and a cat.


From the Book:

A Jew’s final prayer, it is recited when death is imminent.  The Vidui (vi-DOO-ee) is not so much a confession, although that is the usual translation of the Hebrew word, as an acknowledgment.  Having lived a life, you may be prompted to give thanks for it or repent of it.  But either way, an acknowledgement of some kind is appropriate.  Celebration and lamentation are unreliable, because they so much depend on the mood of the moment or one’s habitual predisposition—one’s mental weather or climate.  Death is an occasion that demands a more realistic attention, serious and just.  This is what I am attempting here—honesty.

Strangely, the quality of the prose does not much matter.  Style is a vanity, and I am no longer trying to impress anyone or to be pleasing.  Awkwardness, too, has a truth to convey.  I admit that I tinker with the sentences now and then, but only as a way to achieve clarity and wrest from them whatever interesting implications may be lurking among their obstinate syllables.

I have spent my life doing this, constructing an other, a non-me with which I can struggle in the hope of achieving some understanding and even perhaps a degree of refinement. Nevertheless,with a solitary self, there can be no real dialogue or Talmudic pilpul, and I have to admit that decades of this activity of mine have produced little in the way of wisdom. At best, there were momentary insights I had, surprising and satisfying but not, alas, memorable.  Or not memorable enough for me to remember.

But was there an alternative?