Ageing

Akeem Balogun takes a look at the inevitable:

In William Boyd’s book, Any Human Heart, the character Logan Mountstuart’s life is retold in the form of a diary, and it takes a turn for the dreadful in 1977. He refers to this period as the Dog Food years. I enjoyed these bits the most in the book, yet it was also the most jim broadbent as logan mountstuart_any human hearttouching as Logan is in his seventies and the fact that he will meet his end is inescapable. The character doesn’t live the same, feel the same or move the same. He’s even resorted to eating dog food with curry and various spices. Even though this is written in a light-hearted tone, it’s still disturbing. Once I stopped laughing at the character’s attempts to make food tasteful,  I thought about how ageing is a certainty we all have to deal with. Eventually, everyone will reach the stage in their lives where their bodies begin to deteriorate (if they’ve managed to avoid the reaper before then) and prepare them for their exit. I didn’t like Any Human Heart or the character Logan Mountstuart very much, but I felt sympathy for him during his last diary entries.

I won’t say these parts make the entire book worth reading, as I thought the beginning and the bits covering Mountstuart’s final years were the most entertaining, although I’m glad I stuck with it and reached the end. Here are some powerful extracts from Logan’s last years in Any Human Heart:

“Here’s a Dark thought for a dark night: we all want sudden death but we know we’re not all going to be provided with one. So our end will be our ultimate bit of good or bad luck – the final addition to the respective piles.”

“Think of your old heart as your old face, your heart doesn’t look the same organ as it did when you were eighteen. Imagine that everything that’s happened to your face over the years has happened to you heart. So go easy on it.”

Any Human Heart is available on Penguin

Have you ever read a book that’s struck you and made you think? Let us know in the comments below

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