Title: A Walk in the Twilight: A Librarian Searching For Questions
Author: John J. Bosco, Jr
Genre: Memoir / Poetry / Philosophy
A Walk in the Twilight is a unique combination of memoir and original work that effectively encapsulates the life and worldview of the author. Because of this mixture of writing styles, it provides a glimpse into both the author’s own thoughts on the biggest questions we can ask but also how our relationships and life events can alter and color our approach to those questions.
It begins with a series of chapters devoted to topics of the author’s life, arranged chronologically. The reader meets his family one by one, from parents through grandparents and in-laws, and is brought through stages in his life, from childhood to his time in the Air Force and subsequent long career as a librarian. Parts 2-4 consist of a collection of poems, each with a commentary on what prompted the work, as well as essays and humorous writing by his collaborator, known only as “M Squared.” Part 5 is the crux of the work, where the author outlines his thoughts on the “Great Questions,” including: “What is Consciousness?” and “What is the Meaning of Life.” Each of these is handled according to the author’s research on the subject, as well as much reflection. Like a true librarian, he often also includes references for further reading, in order to provide information for readers to further pursue the questions on their own.
The decision to make the first section of the book a memoir allows it to become, essentially, a time capsule. It is a richer record of his life than any one section could be on its own. The author’s encouragement for others to put together the same sort of book is touching and brilliant. Imagine the insight into our loved ones we would receive if they wrote a similar book: part life story, part thoughts, fiction, or poems.
Throughout, the writing is careful, thoughtful, and obviously very current. The author uses inclusive language and is clearly up-to-date on recent political and social events and movements. He also makes a point to define ideas or pop culture references for those who may not be already familiar with them, which is very helpful to those whose frame of reference differ from his own. Many will no doubt greatly enjoy the thoughtful and evocative poetry and his thoughts on the Great Questions. But it may well be the memoir portion that is found to be the most enjoyable part of this work. The author’s recounting of pivotal life moments and the nuanced descriptions of his loved ones, and empathetic understanding of even their most difficult sides is truly touching.
Some readers may find the structure of the book a little disjointed or wonder why the questions that seem to be the driving force of the book are left to the last section. Others will find this positioning to indicate they are the culmination of all the writings included.
A Walk in the Twilight is highly recommended to those who love an interesting life story engagingly told. It will appeal specifically to those familiar with the parts of New York in which it is set, or are of similar Italian-American backgrounds. But it should be of quite broad appeal, as it would be enjoyed by any who are themselves working on these big questions.
In all, this is a book about a man who, at all times, has tried to do what is right by his fellow humans, and to whom thanks for all his service is due. But it is also about a man who is at peace with himself, if not entirely with the questions he has found. This is the type of book we need right now: a real attempt to encapsulate a person as they say who they are and where they come from. We are in an age where this is exactly the sort of book that should be created and shared.
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