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Passing Away (Print)

15.00
Passing Away Cover.jpg

Passing Away (Print)

15.00

Passing Away by Tom LeClair is a novel in three long stories about men near death: a contemporary middle-aged Vermont policeman, a disgraced Calvin Coolidge after his presidency, and Frederic Tudor, the 79-year-old “Ice King” of nineteenth-century America.  Passing Away is a novel because all the stories are written by Michael Keever, the former basketball player, protagonist, and narrator of Passing Off, Passing On, and Passing Through.  Like Updike’s Rabbit at Rest, Passing Away is both a stand-alone work and a tetralogy’s final book, a three-headed encounter with finality. While personal and intimate, the stories also present the passing away of places and eras: the mid-century small town, rural Vermont of the late nineteenth century, Boston before the Civil War.  Narrated in the first person, each story has a distinctive style: Keever’s sport-inflected vernacular, unexpected stream of consciousness from Coolidge, and Tudor’s aristocratic formality.  And like the preceding Passing novels, Passing Away may well be unreliable as its narrators—and Keever, its putative author--struggle to write the truth about the past in the face of death.  With his vivid characters in particularized histories, Tom LeClair gives readers imaginative and affecting responses to mortality, what Henry James called “the real distinguished thing.”

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Passing Away by Tom LeClair is a novel in three long stories about men near death: a contemporary middle-aged Vermont policeman, a disgraced Calvin Coolidge after his presidency, and Frederic Tudor, the 79-year-old “Ice King” of nineteenth-century America.  Passing Away is a novel because all the stories are written by Michael Keever, the former basketball player, protagonist, and narrator of Passing Off, Passing On, and Passing Through.  Like Updike’s Rabbit at Rest, Passing Away is both a stand-alone work and a tetralogy’s final book, a three-headed encounter with finality. While personal and intimate, the stories also present the passing away of places and eras: the mid-century small town, rural Vermont of the late nineteenth century, Boston before the Civil War.  Narrated in the first person, each story has a distinctive style: Keever’s sport-inflected vernacular, unexpected stream of consciousness from Coolidge, and Tudor’s aristocratic formality.  And like the preceding Passing novels, Passing Away may well be unreliable as its narrators—and Keever, its putative author--struggle to write the truth about the past in the face of death.  With his vivid characters in particularized histories, Tom LeClair gives readers imaginative and affecting responses to mortality, what Henry James called “the real distinguished thing.”