Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley

Boychik Lit Book Review - No. 38

Here’s my book review of The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley.

Novelist Walter Mosley is best known for his Easy Rawlins crime stories and the feature film Devil in a Blue Dress. But The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey isn’t a whodunit. It’s artful, introspective literary fiction about a 91-year-old man near the end of his life.

Ptolemy Grey lives by himself in a shabby one-bedroom apartment in a poor neighborhood in Los Angeles. His place is stacked with the trash of a lifetime. You see, he hasn’t paid any attention to it since he woke up one morning to find his beloved last wife Sensia lying dead beside him.

When Sensia passed, he threw a tarp over everything in the bedroom and closed the door. He now sleeps on a mattress under a table in the kitchen. He rarely goes out, except when his grand-nephew Reggie walks him to the store for a few meager supplies. And he’s terrified to open the door for anyone.

The narrative is full of Ptolemy’s fretful thoughts. He has outlived almost all of his closest friends and loved ones. And early in this story, he finds that Reggie has been killed in a drive-by shooting.
Another nephew, Hilly, drops by to take him to Reggie’s wake. There Ptolemy meets Robyn, a gorgeous, slender girl who is about to turn eighteen. She decides to take care of him, becoming his last love, albeit Platonic, but intense as any of the romances in his long life.

As Ptolemy says to her:  

I love you and I couldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for you taking care of me. And if you were twenty years older and I fifty years less I’d ask you to be my wife and not a soul on this earth would have ever had better.

This may well be Walter Mosley’s best book.

(In 2013 actor Samuel L. Jackson said in an interview with Red Carpet News TV that he had acquired the movie rights to Ptolemy Grey. However, as of this writing, does not list the project.)

For Boychik Lit, I’m Gerald Everett Jones. I’m the author of Mr. Ballpoint. Be sure to catch these podcasts at

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