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The Closer We Are to Dying

 Category: Caregivers & Caregiving

The Closer We Are to Dying is newspaper columnist Joe Fiorito’s spectacular debut as a book writer. A natural story-teller, Fiorito’s extraordinary talent is revealed in prose that is spare, tough, and tender. In this memoir of his family, he writes with a full heart, wielding language like a knife. In the 1950s in Fort William, Ontario, when Joe Fiorito was growing up, it was wrong to be poor and Italian, and risky to be bookish – and he was all of these. He was also marked as a member of a lively and infamous clan. Strangers could size him up at a glance and tell he was a Fiorito; Dusty’s boy. Everyone knew Dusty. He was handsome and hard and hot-tempered. He was a man his son loved and loathed with equal fervour. And it is Dusty who occupies the heart of this book. A letter carrier, a small-town trombonist and occasional crooner, a heavy drinker, Dusty was both the keeper and maker of the family’s many stories. At the end of his life, as Dusty lay dying in hospital, Joe sat with him at nights, listening one last time to the family legends, now burnished to a perfect lustre by repeated tellings – stories too fantastic to be fiction, too pointed to be entirely true. Stories narrated in exquisite style in The Closer We Are to Dying. Fiorito’s striking talent is revealed both in his laconic prose and superlative story-telling, and in the affection and empathy of his vision. The Closer We Are to Dying is a beautiful reminder that while only the powerful are remembered in the history books, the lives of the powerless can also be the stuff of enduring myths.