”These are, I should warn you, the words of a dead man,” is the wounded thrust that begins Graham Swift’s witty, gloomstruck mid-life meditation of a man who has outlived everything, including his own desire to live. Having survived the deaths of his mother, stepfather, and wife as well as his own botched suicide, Bill Unwin has decided to inter himself in academia.
Why go on? The questions that drive Unwin don’t exactly make for pedal-to-the-metal narrative. But, as he demonstrated in Out of This World, Swift is superb at detailing shades of bereavement, alienation, and bemusement, genuine sorrow and gallows mirth. ”Who lets a Big Question upset his small, safe world?” asks Unwin at Ever After‘s midpoint. Few writers could turn the answer into such compelling prose.