The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey

by Walter Mosley
4.1 55

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The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley

A masterful, moving novel about age, memory, and family from one of the true literary icons of our time.

Ptolemy Grey is ninety-one years old and has been all but forgotten-by his family, his friends, even himself-as he sinks into a lonely dementia. His grand-nephew, Ptolemy's only connection to the outside world, was recently killed in a drive-by shooting, and Ptolemy is too suspicious of anyone else to allow them into his life. until he meets Robyn, his niece's seventeen-year-old lodger and the only one willing to take care of an old man at his grandnephew's funeral.

But Robyn will not tolerate Ptolemy's hermitlike existence. She challenges him to interact more with the world around him, and he grasps more firmly onto his disappearing consciousness. However, this new activity pushes Ptolemy into the fold of a doctor touting an experimental drug that guarantees Ptolemy won't live to see age ninety- two but that he'll spend his last days in feverish vigor and clarity. With his mind clear, what Ptolemy finds-in his own past, in his own apartment, and in the circumstances surrounding his grand-nephew's death-is shocking enough to spur an old man to action, and to ensure a legacy that no one will forget.

In The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, Mosley captures the compromised state of his protagonist's mind with profound sensitivity and insight, and creates an unforgettable pair of characters at the center of a novel that is sure to become a true contemporary classic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101445334
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/11/2010
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 231,243
File size: 290 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Walter Mosley is one of America’s most celebrated, beloved, and bestselling writers. His books have been translated into at least twenty-one languages, and have won numerous awards. Born in Los Angeles, Mosley lives in New York City.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

January 12, 1952

Place of Birth:

Los Angeles, California


B.A., Johnson State College

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The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
Ronrose More than 1 year ago
If you have ever had a loved one touched by the cruel hand of dementia, you need to read this book. It will help you understand some of the torment and struggle that are endured by those afflicted by this disease. If you haven't witnessed the suffering, you may well ask if a person would bargain their time that is left them for a few days or weeks of clarity and sound judgment. I know I would. So did Mr Ptolemy Grey,a ninety-one year old, black man, whose life and dignity are being sucked out of him by dementia. He continues to live by himself in squalid surroundings since the death of his wife many years ago. He has a vague idea that he needs to leave a legacy; to make a difference for some of his remaining family and to Robyn, a beautiful, caring, eighteen year old girl, who has brought a freshness and new life to Mr. Ptolemy Grey. He must decide whether to live a life in which he is afraid to go out on the street or to open his door to relatives or neighbors, lest they beat and rob him or take the devil's medicine that may give him a last chance to fulfill his dream. The book is full of good characterizations and is very insightful in how we treat ourselves and others.
px4 More than 1 year ago
This is a Walter Mosley I've never known. I was touched with the plight of old age and cheered by the salvation of youth. I'm looking forward to a second reading. The first time was for the fun of finding out what happens. The second is to revisit the wisdom of the characters.
BernardJames More than 1 year ago
I have ALWAYS been a huge Walter Mosley fan, pouring through all the Easy, Fearless and Socrates novels - and more recently, those featuring NYC Private Investigator, Leonid McGill. Mosley has an extraordinary capacity to breathe life into his characters. Whenever I'm engaged with one of his books, it's as if the principals leap right of the page into a state of animation that continues to inhabit my imagination.long after I've put away the book or turned off my nook. This was no less true in the case of Ptolemy Grey and his young companion, Robyn. In Mosley's novel, the Old Man and Young Girl are thrust into each other's lives in the midst of a trying and difficult situation, and through their various interactions the author skillfully takes us along for the ride, representing their journey of redemption and well as the pure and unmitigated love they develop for each another. Under different circumstances or in a different time and place, we're led to believe that their affection would most certainly have been expressed in a more intimate way: "If I was 20 years older, and you were 50 years younger..?" is a question that Robyn initially poses and both characters return to several times. But in spite of the chasm that defines their generational divide, Ptolemy and Robyn are still able to find a true and legitimate expression for how they feel about each other. In time, old fears are conquered and new potential is harnessed and put to effective use. This book is Powerful. The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey was an absolute treat.
awaywego More than 1 year ago
Mr. Mosley does a superb job of capturing the frustration and confusion of an elderly man suffering from dementia and the explosive effect a mind altering "alternative" drug has on his life and relationships. Excellent read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book drew me in on the first page. I read it in a day- reading at traffic lights, in the car wash, lunch breaks.... It brings back a humanity missing on so many books written today....and I loved how the author ended the book. So many books have left me with an anti-climactic feeling, not so with this piece....I simply shut the back cover and smiled.
bookworm6460 More than 1 year ago
eeom1 7 months ago
Amazing read. SO many good themes to take out of this book. "The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey" is about Ptolemy, a 91-year-old man that is nearing his death with severe dementia. I especially appreciated this book because my late grandmother suffered with dementia. Anyone that reads this book can say that Ptolemy is an extremely likable person. He is thoughtful, caring, and extremely loyal to his family members and friends. However, dementia gets the best of him and he is left clueless day by day with even the simplest things like turning the TV on. It isn't until he meets Robyn, a 17-year-old girl that his niece took in, that makes Ptolemy change for the better. Ptolemy is able to make important decisions pending his death solely because Robyn came in to his life. I loved that this book doesn't merely tell a story, but it incorporates themes of racism, crime, family values, and friendship on a whole new level. Ptolemy's friendship with Coy is one of a kind, and the trust they have for each other is inspiring (you will know what I'm talking about if you read the book.) Would highly recommend this book, and would undoubtedly read it again.
JABJr More than 1 year ago
A great book.  I really enjoy his writing.  It is so compact yet conveys so much.  I’m always surprised at how few pages his stories are but how much I get out of the books.  Very glad I took the suggestion to read this book for Black History Month.
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Great Read
gutdoc More than 1 year ago
We get into the mind of an aging person with a remarkable twist at the end. It combines aging, racial tensions and love in a unique way. Very enjoyable!
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thewanderingjew More than 1 year ago
This is a story about a touching relationship between an old man and the young girl whose kindness and true concern for him reawakens his heart and mind. Her tenderness brings him back to life again so that he can spend his last days "alive" once more, with the memory of his youth, if not the body, so he could settle old scores and protect the ones who were closest to him when he takes his final leave. This sensitive tale of love and loss, humiliation and pride, violence and gentleness, devotion and betrayal, courage and fear, strength and weakness, will stay with you long after you turn the final page. If I had known Ptolemy Grey, he would have enriched my life. Ironically, Ptolemy is a gentle soul, but toward the end of his life, he hopes he has not sold it to the devil. He has a simple but common sense approach to life. He has suffered many tragedies over the years and witnessed the brutality and abuse his race has been subjected to historically. His memories were the "stuff of nightmares." At 91, with his memory and mind beginning to fray around the edges as dementia steals more and more of his thought processes, and with the weakness of age depriving him of his vitality, he easily became prey for those who were stronger and meaner. Not formally educated, he was still wiser than many of those who were more scholarly. He lived by simple truths and wished only to be surrounded by those that seemed sincere and wanted to give back more than they wished to take. He understood how the cruelty of some experiences could color a person's decisions and he forgave them when they chose to do wrong, if they had good reasons for that behavior and really were good inside. The book begins and ends with a tender love letter of sorts, and it sets the mood. The author illuminates the loneliness and frustration endured by the elderly as they lose their independence and must rely on others whom they cannot always trust. He presents his story with a prose using the dialect of the poor black community which at first may be hard to follow and may seem confused, but since the main character is confused, it is probably the author's purpose and is deliberate. A rhythm soon develops and it is no longer a problem to follow the dialogue. Words are spelled phonetically to make it more effective, and it enhances the interaction of the characters as you can hear their conversations in your own mind because of it. He has depicted the black culture perfectly. The descriptions are so vivid that you are sitting in the apartment with Ptolemy as he struggles with his thoughts and as he entertains visitors, as he walks down the street with the fear of being attacked by assailants, and as he feels the strong emotional pull and impact of his love for those dear to him and those in his memories of love long gone. As he travels through his past through his dreams and thoughts, we learn about the highlights of his life. With brief anecdotes, we learn how he perceives the world and we witness the injustices and decline of morality coupled with the decay of societies infrastructure and principles. His apartment, like his mind, is cluttered and unkempt,until 17 year old Robyn enters his life and genuinely cares for him. The book is a gift with a message that will remain with you.
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