For his sixtieth birthday my wife Roberta gave our good friend Boyd a book (I put Rob’s name there in full for the rhythm of the sentence). Appropriately enough the volume, a memoir on his sixtieth year (‘is this the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end,’ Toronto author Ian Brown evidently asks, in the vein of Churchill) was called ‘Sixty’ – you can read a review of it here. I haven’t read it, but I plan to. I mean, a book by a guy who names his haemorrhoid “George” has to be worth reading, right? There is more than one thing going on here, as you can see. The impulse to be funny, obviously, about something that is distinctly unfunny; the inevitable existential questioning (oh god, is the end really in sight? when will it happen? what was that all about? was life really so short – and now it’s all over!) which is part I

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