The Books

Michael Rosen’s Sad Book

by Michael Rosen
Illustrated by Quentin Blake

One Potato Review

On the death of a son. “I’ve been trying to figure out ways of being sad that don’t hurt so much,” describes Rosen, struggling to manage the darkness that seems to descend from nowhere some days, yet here are a couple of radiant little somethings to hold onto: a chicken dinner well prepared, soccer on the tube – “gooooaaaalll!” – a crane, and a train full of people, many sad, many coping, many taking their sadness out on others. Being sad isn’t the same as being horrible, he reminds himself: it’s a start. And maybe not for everyone, and maybe not so therapeutic as we may expect from such books, though probably not half so traumatizing either – because we are all pretty hapless in the business of death. And dumbstruck, and alone, no matter our age or our company. This book doesn’t pretend to beat a path through that isolation, in fact the last pages find Rosen still hopelessly stuck. Curator of old memories or inventor of new ones? There’s a crossroads here, even if no one has posted any signs.

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