"The End of the Alphabet" by C.S. Richardson is one of the most beautiful books I've stumbled across in a long time. I found it at Books A Million in the library book section. Yes, they have a section where they sell old library books. It's wonderful. They are all hardbacks and have card catalogue cards in the back (you know, the old fashioned cards you actually had to have the librarian stamp for you at the desk). I'm a bit of a nostalgic at heart, so I picked up three the last time I was there. Richardson's book was the first I read.
It's a quick read, I finished it in about an hour and a half, but the depth of the story will stay with you much, much longer. It is a tale about a man, a rather ordinary man by all accounts, who sets out on the journey of a lifetime after hearing some rather disheartening news from his physician. As you read, however, you come to discover that Mr. Zephyr is not as ordinary as he seems. In hindsight, I have to ask myself: are any of us really ordinary?
For that's what beautiful stories do, make us question the conventional, make us wonder at what we hold as truth. I've never enjoyed reading for the sake of reading. If a book fails to stir me emotional in the first chapter, I put it down. I'm not going to waste my time with a story that means nothing more that what it appears at face value. Some may argue that I'm missing out on some juicy beach reads. I argue that I'm not one to bite into a story and let the juices run; I'd rather chew it up, savor it, swallow it and let it digest, slowly. I've also been told I'm weird, so follow my suggestions at your own risk.
If, like me, you enjoy stories that linger in your memory, challenge you to live a better life, and are filled with beautiful prose, hunt down a copy of "The End of the Alphabet". And if you can't find it at your local library, don't panic. They may have just sent it to Books A Million.