Walter Mosley has been on my list of authors to check out for a while. For some reason, I’ve never gotten around to him.
As I’ve been trying to save money and exercising my library muscles lately, I see the Last Days of Ptolemy Grey perched on a shelf and just grab it. I liked the title and the cover pic with the words fading away and I kind of get it.
Ptolemy Grey is a 91-year old black man living in Los Angeles alone. In squalor. There are mice, roaches, an unusable bathroom, and this old man whose mind is fading (like the words on the book cover) waiting on his grand-nephew caregiver, Reggie.
Ptolemy lives in fear of losing his mind, changing times, and a crack-head woman who robs him whenever he leaves his house alone. She has even come into his house and it has made him afraid to even answer the door.
Reggie was killed in a drive-by shooting and Ptolemy’s life has to change. In walks a new family friend, Robyn Small. She connects with Ptolemy. She actually sees Ptolemy. Reggie has been his caregiver for years but the bathroom hasn’t worked in at least that long. Robyn cleans his house and helps Ptolemy get things in order. Including his natural mind. You see Ptolemy is trying to remember things he was supposed to have done and people he was supposed to have helped.
Robyn takes Ptolemy to a doctor who offers Ptolemy the chance to take an illegal and experimental drug that would give him his mind back. If he takes the drug he will only have 3 months to live. tops.
Ptolemy takes the deal with the devil and tries to set things right.
This book makes me think about the generational gap between the young and the old. How we don’t often see the old people around us. We deal with them. We sometimes take care of them. But we don’t see them. We don’t value them anymore. And the loss is tremendous and profound. Especially in the black community.
This book also shows how much things have changed in our community with the loss of respect for each other and our lives.
I recommend this book. And I now owe it to myself to catch up on Walter Mosley.