... wistful ... The funniest and most illuminating thread traces Iyer’s blossoming ping-pong skills, as he competes against spry septuagenarians and witnesses the more passionate side of traditionally stoical Japanese men. With his trademark blend of amiability, lighthearted humor, and profound observations, Iyer celebrates emotional connection and personal expression, and he upholds death as an affirmation of life and all its seasons.
... a vivid meditation on the year after his father-in-law’s death: a conscious transition from grief glimpsed through the prism of his pedestrian daily routines and tested by the changing Japanese seasons ... It’s Iyer’s keen ear for detail and human nature that helps him populate his trademark cantabile prose with his (seemingly boring) daily routines and the (never boring) people who populate them ... Each player offers a unique navigation through these comes-to-all autumn years; and how clever of Iyer to make their commotions a metaphor for how the world paddles forward.
Like the films of Ozu and Bergman, Iyer’s book is something you feel from within — a mood that is being conveyed ... A strange emotional fragility arises after sinking into the book, a heightened sense of awareness of what is usually neglected. As I was reading, I often found myself staring out the window in reverie; catching sight of a falling leaf would inexplicably cause me to cry ... [The book is] not only a joy to read, it’s helpful. After all, what can we say to someone who is suffering a fatal illness, or to someone who has experienced a great loss?