"Sometimes it feels like I'm the only person awake in the whole country. People might find that a lonely thought. Not me. Being alone and loneliness aren't the same thing."
Some books bring us closer to experiences we would never have otherwise. For me, The Gritterman is one of those books. It's about an old man who comes to terms with ending a job that he's had his whole life—clearing snow and gritting paths, pavement and roads in the dark, blue-black hours of winter nights. He goes out for his last night of work on Christmas Eve. The gritterman's world is frigid, snowy, dimly lit, perpetually dank and clammy—but familiar and embraced by him. He loves it and is heartbroken to leave it. The narrative is honest, soulful and melancholic with funny, cheeky moments throughout.
One of the best things about The Gritterman is that its author, who's also a musician, Orlando Weeks (formerly of the Maccabees), put out a companion album with music and songs written and performed by him and a narration of the story by Paul Whitehouse. It's available on iTunes.
If you love quiet, beautiful stories, seek out this one from across the pond. Far and away one of our favorite books published this year. The Gritterman was written and illustrated by Orlando Weeks and published by Particular Books.