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Short Book Review

The Presence of Absence by Simon Van Booy is more than a book, it’s an experience. You know those books which seem to transcend space and time? The Presence of Absence does exactly that. A young writer awaiting his inevitable death has one last story to tell. His story is not of loss, but of love, but I guess every story about love has to have loss in it; in a sense, loss is what makes love, love.

The book is an insight to a dying person’s mind. Death is inevitable, but when you’re given an expiration date and estimate to when it’s going to come, what do you do?

The motif of the book is perhaps death, but it’s also love. I felt like the book was Booy’s way of expressing his love for his partner; an intimate goodbye or even an eternal token of his love for everyone to read.

One of my favorite lines from the book was “life doesn’t start when you’re born — it begins when you commit yourself to the eventual devastating loss that results from connecting to a person who to everyone else appears completely ordinary. Sex doesn’t matter. Gender doesn’t matter. Age and physical appearance don’t matter, it’s in the eyes. That’s where you can tell. And, of course, by how long after they’ve disappeared from your life — you somehow find a way to go on. Loving them.”

Booy reinforces the idea of loss every time he mentions love. It’s that bittersweet feeling of being able to experience perhaps the only feeling worth living for, or as Simon describes it: the actual start to ones life, but it is shadowed by the eventual loss and heartache caused due to the absence of that very person, and in a way, that gaping hole of absence is the very proof of love’s presence.



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