Coda, by Simon GrayWere Simon Gray alive today, I could not have reviewed this book. Friends should not review each other’s work or reviewing becomes a form of puffery. But death changes everything. Coda, so named because it rounds off the trilogy of ‘Smoking Diaries’ (The Smoking Diaries, The Year of the Jouncer and The Last Cigarette), is a meditation on death, or rather dying, an account of living on borrowed time — how Simon would have pounced on that phrase, ‘borrowed time’, and subjected it to scrutiny: why borrowed? who from? can it be paid back? ‘and so forth’, as he might add. It is many other things besides: a touching love letter to his wife, now widow, Victoria; a far-from-reverential description of his encounters with the three doctors intimately involved in the diagnosis and treatment of his cancer; a celebration of life and friendships, of domesticity with cats and dogs; an attempt at an assessment of his work as a playwright; and an account of his enthusiastic discovery (and later cooler critical assessment) of the work of Stefan Zweig.