Nearing the end of his life, Old asks himself, “Does my life ultimately have any importance in any universal scheme? Am I just taking up space? Have I wasted the time given me? What effect have I had on others? Have I unknowingly, worse, knowingly, hurt others in some fashion? What’s my worth? These are playful existential questions with no pertinent answers for me. So I’m putting down my cane and picking up my pen. I’m going to sift through the sands of my time to see what I can discover through remembrance. Don’t expect any fancy writing. No playing with altered punctuation, or trying to be aesthetically clever, or poetic, or intellectual. Not here a Sedaris, or Saunders, or Atwood, or Yuknavich. Just me, squinting into some memorable windows in my life before they all fog.”
The book is divided into three distinct parts: Early Years, Middle Years and Later Years. Though this structure offers a distinctly chronological ordering, the stories themselves often aren’t directly related to each other. Instead, each chapter paints a portrait of an interesting character Adams met, or divulges a valuable lesson he learned, working like short stories in and of themselves. Adams's prose is eloquent yet unfussy, controlled yet never strained, characterized by a touching humanity that makes the reader feel everything the author is feeling.
One compelling throughline is Adams’s love of literature and music, especially his passion for jazz. His account of meeting the singer Abbie Hart at the storied Lighthouse club in California’s Hermosa Beach, and subsequently covering her career for Downbeat—and then eventually marrying her—is a breezy pleasure, pulsing with life and evocative of a long-gone milieu that, fortunately, we still can touch through recordings and stories like this. “I felt unhinged with happiness,” Adams writes. Lovers of humane short stories—trading in family, love and loss—and memoirs will enjoy this book, which is extremely pure and evocative.
Takeaway: This arresting memoir bursts with life, insight, and an infectious love of jazz and writing.
Great for fans of: Scott Yanow’s Life Through The Eyes Of A Jazz Journalist, Lee Smith’s Dimestore: A Writer's Life.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B
This was a touching and beautiful story that I’m grateful to have read, a bittersweet reflection on a long and storied life as the protagonist goes through the very human experience of trying to understand who he is. Author W. Royce Adams demonstrates a keen skill for character study as the exploration of Old’s life creates a complex and gorgeous mosaic of ups and downs that seem disparate at first but seamlessly fit together to form the portrait of a nuanced and grounded character. The sense of perspective given by the book is stunning as major, life-changing events and huge historical moments become mere pieces in a wider picture that slowly comes into focus as we learn more about Old’s life. As Time Goes By is a book that will leave a long-lasting impression on the reader as it teaches a valuable lesson about human nature and the meaning of not just life in general but one life in particular. 5 Star Review
Seeing the after-effects of a mob lynching, a punch-up in summer camp, alcohol-fueled binges in Spain, and an interesting conversation with a murderous coyote. These are some of the more remarkable aspects of the highlight reel that makes up a very eccentric old man's life in As Time Goes By, a novel by W. Royce Adams. The protagonist tells us about his interesting family dynamic and how his admiration for a particular style of music came about, without ignoring the lessons he learned throughout two interesting marriages. Love, lust, friendship, and betrayal; he speaks about it all. Having watched those he loved finally leave this world before him, he prepares for the final chapter of his story to be written.
As Time Goes By is a tale that will resonate with most men in more ways than one. W. Royce Adams expresses himself through his writing in a direct manner. There is no shifting of blame for any wrongdoing as the primary character comes across as stoic and honest even when knee-deep in sinful pictures. The attention to detail is thorough, and I have not seen a better description of an inebriated individual than in this novel. The appreciation of timeless music is displayed and culminates with a playlist that would make any aficionado drool and could only have been compiled by someone in the know. I enjoyed this book with its moving storyline and quirky humor. Old age can be a pain for men, literally speaking, but Adams puts a lovely spin on it with this story.
If interested, you can watch W. Royce Adams discuss and read from his book "As Time Goes By" during a book signing at Chaucers Bookstore in Santa Barbara, California. Go to Chaucers Bookstore YouTube for his and other author readings.