About ' Bill and Al'
Bill Clarkson is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s. He is trying to make sense of the world; his wife’s death, and his various moves from home, to care home, nursing home and finally to hospital.
Michael, his son, is a selfish and idle drunkard. Bill regards him as ‘the apple of his eye’, and never changes that view up to the moment of his death, but Michael is forced by his father’s circumstances to become a devoted, helpful and loving son.
The story unfolds entirely from Bill's point of view as he struggles to deal with his disintegrating mind. The reader sees realities of Bill’s life that he himself never fully comprehends. A main theme of the book is the reader’s appreciation of Michael’s journey from selfishness to selflessness, seen through Bill’s eyes but without Bill’s own understanding. The background is about love between Bill and his late wife Mary, and between Bill and his son. Through this unusual point of view the reader experiences several different ‘versions’ of Bill’s character from which the reader is able to construct his ‘whole’ personality in a way Bill himself is unable to do.
A sub-theme – the illness, dying and euthanasia of a beloved pet - counterpoints Bill’s condition, inviting the reader to explore a topical theme: assisted death of the terminally ill.