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The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey
Cover of The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey
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A masterful, moving novel about age, memory, and family from one of the literary icons of our time.
Coming in March 2022 from Apple Plus , a six-part series starring Samuel L. Jackson
Ptolemy Grey is ninety-one years old and has been all but forgotten-by his family, his friends, even himself-as he sinks into a lonely dementia. His grand-nephew, Ptolemy's only connection to the outside world, was recently killed in a drive-by shooting, and Ptolemy is too suspicious of anyone else to allow them into his life. until he meets Robyn, his niece's seventeen-year-old lodger and the only one willing to take care of an old man at his grandnephew's funeral.
But Robyn will not tolerate Ptolemy's hermitlike existence. She challenges him to interact more with the world around him, and he grasps more firmly onto his disappearing consciousness. However, this new activity pushes Ptolemy into the fold of a doctor touting an experimental drug that guarantees Ptolemy won't live to see age ninety- two but that he'll spend his last days in feverish vigor and clarity. With his mind clear, what Ptolemy finds-in his own past, in his own apartment, and in the circumstances surrounding his grand-nephew's death-is shocking enough to spur an old man to action, and to ensure a legacy that no one will forget.
In The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, Mosley captures the compromised state of his protagonist's mind with profound sensitivity and insight, and creates an unforgettable pair of characters at the center of a novel that is sure to become a true contemporary classic.
A masterful, moving novel about age, memory, and family from one of the literary icons of our time.
Coming in March 2022 from Apple Plus , a six-part series starring Samuel L. Jackson
Ptolemy Grey is ninety-one years old and has been all but forgotten-by his family, his friends, even himself-as he sinks into a lonely dementia. His grand-nephew, Ptolemy's only connection to the outside world, was recently killed in a drive-by shooting, and Ptolemy is too suspicious of anyone else to allow them into his life. until he meets Robyn, his niece's seventeen-year-old lodger and the only one willing to take care of an old man at his grandnephew's funeral.
But Robyn will not tolerate Ptolemy's hermitlike existence. She challenges him to interact more with the world around him, and he grasps more firmly onto his disappearing consciousness. However, this new activity pushes Ptolemy into the fold of a doctor touting an experimental drug that guarantees Ptolemy won't live to see age ninety- two but that he'll spend his last days in feverish vigor and clarity. With his mind clear, what Ptolemy finds-in his own past, in his own apartment, and in the circumstances surrounding his grand-nephew's death-is shocking enough to spur an old man to action, and to ensure a legacy that no one will forget.
In The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, Mosley captures the compromised state of his protagonist's mind with profound sensitivity and insight, and creates an unforgettable pair of characters at the center of a novel that is sure to become a true contemporary classic.
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Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from September 13, 2010
    Mosley (Known to Evil) plays out an intriguing premise in his powerful latest: a man is given a second shot at life, but at the price of a hastened death. Ptolemy Grey is a 91-year-old man, suffering from dementia and living as a recluse in his Los Angeles apartment. With one foot in the past and the other in the grave, Ptolemy begins to open up when Robyn Small, a 17-year-old family friend, appears and helps clean up his apartment and straighten out his life. A reinvigorated Ptolemy volunteers for an experimental medical program that will restore his mind, but at hazardous cost: he won't live to see 92. With the clock ticking, Ptolemy uses his rejuvenated mental abilities to delve into the mystery of the recent drive-by shooting death of his great-nephew, Reggie, and to render justice the only way he knows how, goaded and guided by the memory of his murdered childhood mentor, Coydog McCann. Though the details of the experimental procedure are less than convincing, Mosley's depiction of the indignities of old age is heartbreaking, and Ptolemy's grace and decency make for a wonderful character and a moving novel.

  • Kirkus

    October 1, 2010

    An ancient man living in solitary squalor in Los Angeles is offered an experimental medicine that just might beat back his creeping dementia—and will almost certainly kill him in the process.

    At 91, Ptolemy Grey has outlived everyone he ever cared for. His uncle and mentor, Coydog McCann, was lynched back in Mississippi when Li'l Pea was only a child; his much younger wife, Sensia Howard, had a fatal stroke 22 years ago; and as his story opens, he's summoned to the side of his much-loved son Reggie, his last link with the outside world, killed in a drive-by shooting. Unable to get services from the landlord who's frustrated that he can't raise the rent and afraid to go out alone lest he run into Melinda Hogarth, the crazy addict who keeps mugging him, Ptolemy lives amid an unending flood of uncontrolled memories and associations that render his mind as unusable as his clogged toilet. But his life turns around when he meets Robyn Small at Reggie's wake. An orphan taken in by Ptolemy's niece Niecie, Robyn has already, at 17, lived through as tempestuous a life as Ptolemy. But she's emerged from its vicissitudes clear-eyed, tough-minded and eager to help the old man who claims her as a daughter. She cleans and fumigates his reeking apartment, sets up a bank account for the cash he's socked away and takes him to see Dr. Bryant Ruben, the satanic physician who offers Ptolemy a medical therapy unapproved by the FDA that may improve his memory and his cognition, but at a high price. Robyn is shocked and repelled, but Ptolemy, who's named after Cleopatra's father, is eager to get something like his old life back.

    Borrowing from Faust, the Iliad and Gran Torino, Mosley (Known to Evil, 2010, etc.) unforgettably transforms Ptolemy's cacophony of memories into a powerful symphony that makes him "into many men from out of all the lives he had lived through the decades."

    (COPYRIGHT (2010) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • Library Journal

    October 1, 2010

    Best known and acclaimed for his Easy Rawlins mystery novels (Devil in a Blue Dress), Mosley occasionally transgresses into the philosopher/doctor role, offering his diagnosis and prognosis for pervasive social and racial ailments. In this latest foray into allegorical fiction, Ptolemy Gray, a 91-year-old African American struggling with dementia, painfully recalls joyful events. Old Coy, a former hero-figure/friend, bequeaths to Ptolemy a white man's stolen treasure that, if invested wisely, would correct racial transgressions foisted upon undeserving blacks. However, Ptolemy's confused memory and lost communication skills sap his intentions. Then a passionate lady/angel introduces our protagonist to a doctor/devil, who injects Ptolemy with an experimental drug that empowers him to correct these inequities but quickly takes his body and soul. VERDICT As with The Man in My Basement, this is another stylized commentary of little redemptive quality (its overall theme seems redundant rather than reflective), and it makes a rather weak contribution to the ongoing American racial debate. For Mosley's dedicated fans as well as comprehensive, contemporary American fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/10.]--Jerry P. Miller, Cambridge, MA

    Copyright 2010 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from September 15, 2010
    Ptolemy Grey is a 91-year-old African American living alone in violent South Central L.A. Frail and suffering from dementia, largely forgotten by his extended family, he cant remember to eat, his mind scattered over nearly a hundred years. He relives events marked by racism, lynching, poverty, and longing for his long-dead wife. His great-grand nephew, Reggie, takes him to the grocery store and prompts him to eat. When Reggie is killed in a drive-by shooting, Ptolemys days appear to be numbered. But Robyn, a beautiful, resourceful 17-year-old, steps in. As she sees to Ptolemys needs, she awakens his desire for the lucidity he once had, and he meets a doctor who offers him a chance for several months of mental clarity before almost certain death. Mosleys dramatic departure from his Easy Rawlins and Leonid McGill crime novels appears to be a very personal one, a deeply thoughtful, provocative, and often beautiful meditation on aging, memory, family, loss, and love. Ptolemy and Robynare truly indelible characters. Mosleys story is ultimately life affirming, and his writing is by turns gritty and sublime. Baby boomers caring for aged parents, or thinking about their own mortality, will line up for The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. Mosleys fans of any age will also embrace it, and every library will be better for adding it. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A return to top form for Mosley, who has slumped a bit since ending his Easy Rawlins series. An aggressive marketing campaign and a poignant autobiographical connection (Mosley helped care for a relative with dementia) will draw deserved attention to a very fine novel.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2010, American Library Association.)

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The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey
Walter Mosley
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