Undying: A Nonfiction Novel

Todd Gitlin, Counterpoint, $15.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-58243-646-3
Gitlin (Sacrifice) offers a jumbled and heavy-handed reflection on life and illness in his unpolished latest. In the fall of 2004, Alan Meister, a professor of philosophy living in New York, contemplates the possible correlation between his recent cancer diagnosis and the re-election of George W. Bush. So begins the cataloguing of Alan's life, anchored by journal entries about his illness and treatment; his loving wife, Melanie; and the mildly but more playfully contentious relationship with his daughter, Natasha. There are long backwards glances at his past and an obsessive philosophical waxing on the ideas of Nietzscheā€”who becomes less a dead philosopher and more of a mentor and guide during Alan's treatment. Gitlin is generous with details about life in New York and living with cancer and finds some lovely moments dealing with each, but these elements alone aren't enough to create a satisfying narrative, muted as they are by uninspired intellectual rumination and wan nostalgia. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/20/2010
Release date: 02/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
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