A drink in the tennis club bar leads two men to conclude that life has not turned out the way that either of them expected. They throw down a challenge - to meet in exactly three years time in the same bar to see which of them can best transform his life to meet his dreams. This is a deserved prize-winner. The writing is taut and the story compelling - I couldn't put it down.
"I'm thirty-nine," said Thierry.
"I was forty a fortnight ago. Can we still think of ourselves as sort of...young?"
"Probably, but the apprenticeship's over. If you think that life expectancy for a man is seventy-five, we've still got the second half to go, perhaps the better half, who knows? But it's the first half that's made us into who we are."
"What you're saying is that most of our choices are irreversible."
"We've always known we wouldn't be Panatta or Alfred Brendel. Over the years we've constructed ourselves, and we may have thirty years ahead of us to see whether we've got ourselves about right. But we'll never be someone else any more."
It felt like a verdict and they drank to the certainty of it.
"Anyway, what's the point in wanting to be someone else, to live someone else's life?" Gredzinski went on. "Or to feel someone else's joy and pain? If we've become who we are, then the choices can't have been that bad. Who else would you have liked to be?"