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A man looks back on those he lost

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'When All Is Said' by Anne Griffin
'When All Is Said' by Anne Griffin
Courtesy of publisher

Every week, The Thread checks in with booksellers around the country about their favorite books of the moment. This week, we spoke with Vicki Burger from Wind City Books in Casper, Wyo.

A man walks into a bar.

It's not a joke, but rather the beginning of "When All Is Said" by Anne Griffin. That man, who is in his late 80s, orders a drink. The drink is just the first in a series of five; those five drinks form the structure of the novel.

"Each drink is a toast to someone who is very important in his life," bookseller Vicki Burger explained. "For example, the first drink is to his older brother, who passed away in his early 20s. ... Each drink that he has is that particular person's favorite — or, in the case of his daughter, who died at birth, it was something he was drinking at the time." 

"You get this short story that's more in form of an elegy to each one of these people," Burger said. "It's just beautifully told. It ranks right up there with the beauty and emotions that are evoked in 'A Gentleman in Moscow,' which is my previous absolute favorite."

"To find something that is just such a beautiful tribute to these five people — it's just lovely about how we look back on our lives ... and the people who have been important to us either for good or bad."

When All is Said  When All is Said