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Richardson, C.S.

Richardson, C.S.

PERSONAL:

Male.

CAREER:

Book designer and writer. Work has been exhibited at both the Frankfurt and Leipzig Book Fairs.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Multiple recipient of the Alcuin Award for book designing, Canada.

WRITINGS:

The End of the Alphabet (novel), Doubleday (New York, NY), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

A longtime, award-winning book designer, C.S. Richardson is also an author whose first novel tells the story of a man who has one month to live. The End of the Alphabet "distills the essence of life and love," noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Noting the clichéd plot device, January Magazine Web site contributor Cherie Thiessen wrote that Richardson nevertheless "manages to create a fresh story you'll want to read through to the finish in one sitting."

The novel's protagonists are the British couple Ambrose Zephyr and Zappora Ashkenazi. When Ambrose learns that he has only a month to live, he decides that he and his wife will travel to all the places he has always wanted to see. To save time on deciding where to go first, they will visit the places in alphabetical order. "Of course, the alphabet theme is recurrent throughout the novel as well," wrote a contributor to the Here She Be—The Battlements Web site. The reviewer went on to note in the same review: "It also provides order to what the couple does, where they go, what they see. At times it fails them—they miss E is for Elba entirely. And the idea that Ambrose and Zappora's wonderful life together cannot be contained inside so structured an environment sets in."

In the novel, the author explores two people whose careers—Ambrose is a creative art director with an advertiser and Zephyr (affectionately called "Zipper") is a literary editor—have allowed them not only the opportunity to fulfill their dreams but also to be more devoted to each other than most couples. Without children or grandchildren, both realize that Zipper is going to have an especially difficult time in dealing with the loss of her husband. "The book is a heartbreaker," wrote Thiessen on the January Magazine Web site. "It's no coincidence that Ambrose's beloved wife's name is at the end of the alphabet, the final place he winds up when he impulsively decides to journey to places imbued with memories and to places dreamt of, beginning from A to Z."

Other reviewers also had high praise for the novel, noting that it may be brief but that its impact is big. "Damn you, CS Richardson," wrote a contributor to the BookBuffet Web site. "How did you write such a perfect book? How can I have become so entranced by the lives of two apparently fictional London characters whose childless marriage and cut-short romance has captured my heart and left an ache so strong it rekindles the physical pain at the center of my chest last felt when my mother died years ago, and rare times since?" In a more succinct review, a Publishers Weekly contributor noted: "Richardson's tightly focused tale has panache, shadowed by a brooding suspense."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Books in Canada, November, 2007, Aritha van Herk, review of The End of the Alphabet, p. 25.

Book World, September 16, 2007, Reeve Lindbergh, "From A to Z," review of The End of the Alphabet, p. 6.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2007, review of The End of the Alphabet.

Publishers Weekly, June 4, 2007, review of The End of the Alphabet, p. 29.

USA Today, August 29, 2007, Bob Minzesheimer, "E Is for Emotion in Richardson's Nifty ‘Alphabet.’"

ONLINE

BookBuffet,http://www.bookbuffet.com/ (October 16, 2006), review of The End of the Alphabet.

Here She Be—The Battlements,http://hereshebe.wordpress.com/ (September 25, 2007), "This Story Is Unlikely," review of The End of the Alphabet.

January Magazine,http://januarymagazine.com/ (February 26, 2008), Cherie Thiessen, "F is for Filosofia," review of The End of the Alphabet.

Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.ca/ (February 26, 2008), brief profile of author.

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