Walter had mastered the business world at an unaccounted cost to discover in old age and ill-health a disease that would render his body useless. His mind, however, was trapped as it was, and had an unconventional final act to play to everyone’s surprise, including his own. While Walter reads the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi’s work, his inner life takes on a new shape, as his body continues to betray him and deteriorate. He says a long, reluctant goodbye while engaging a side to life that has been unexplored until now. For the first time, Walter seems to be experiencing life as a poet would, even as the inevitable end comes closer. A cinematic non-linear take and frank examination of the promise of life, even at its end, Bedside Matters concern us all at one time or another as we ask the ultimate question: what matters most?
Praise for Richard Alther
"Richard Alther's Bedside Matters offers readers an insightful and moving end-of-life narrative in the spirit of Paul Harding's Tinkers and William Gaddis's Agapē Agape. Challenged by physical decline and family intrigue, Walter transcends his corporeal prison to find larger meaning in art, philosophy, and literature. A work of depth, carefully wrought with nuance and delicately wrapped in wisdom and humor, Bedside Matters serves up a worthy exploration of and an antidote to the shortcomings of our material age."
―Jacob M. Appel, author of Millard Salter's Last Day
"More than a story of a man coming to terms with his life in its final chapter, Richard Alther's Bedside Matters provides meaningful insights to anyone interested in the process of letting go. His sensitively drawn main character takes us inside the complex psychological processes that make being in the moment much easier said than done. Even with our best efforts and good support, the myriad attachments we develop over a lifetime, to desire, expectations, people, possessions, and ideas, all keep circling back to clutter the pathway and entangle us. Alther's novel provides an empathic portrait of the struggle to break free and find peace.
―Bart Magee, Ph.D., licensed psychologist, Founder and Executive Director of Access Institute for Psychological Services in San Francisco
“Bedside Matters is a rich and articulate example of how truths fall into place towards the end of a life. Richard Alther has written with sensitive insight into the mystery of death.”
—Madeleine M. Kunin, former Governor of Vermont, author of Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eighties
About the Author
Richard Alther was born and raised in suburban New Jersey. He graduated as an English major from Cornell University and pursued twin careers as a writer and painter. He is the author of five novels: The Decade of Blind Dates (2008), Siegfried Follies (2010), The Scar Letters (2013), Roxie & Fred (2017), and Bedside Matters, to be released by Rare Bird Books on March 9, 2021.
After several years in Manhattan, he moved to Vermont and earned his family’s living writing extensively about vegetable gardening and homesteading. His simultaneous career as an exhibiting painter included gallery representation and one-person shows in Montreal, London, Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas, and Florida.
Richard has trained and competed nationally as a Masters Swimmer for several years, reaching the top ten at age 50.
He divides his time between homes in Palm Springs, California and the Lake Champlain area of Vermont, where his grandchildren reside. Follow Richard’s blogs on Medium: https://richardalther.medium.com.