Older & Wiser

Posted by on Friday, Apr 27, 2012 - 3:03 PM

For those who share my demographic (Remember Bill Haley & Rock Around the Clock?) these books ameliorate feelings of isolation which you will recognize.  Each author dives into the fears and frustrations, the joys and sorrows, the satisfactions and regrets that intensify as we age.

In Emily, Alone, Stewart O'Nan  re-visits the family we met in his 2002 novel Wish You Were Here.  Widowed Emily longs for more contact with her grandchildren, better understandings with her children, better health for her dog, and the inner strength to move beyond the deaths of her friends and the changing of her neighborhood. O'Nan writes in an authentic voice...that of an elderly woman. He captures all the little moments that are magnified as we age. An impressive novel, this will leave you feeling hopeful and a lot less alone..and for younger readers, it may add a thoughtful dimension to their relationships with mothers and grandmothers.

Diana Athill is a superb writer, her skills honed by five decades of editing authors like VS Naipul and Jean Rhys.  In  Somewhere Towards the End written in her ninety-first year, Athill tells it like it is. Her essays are without inhibition, but her clever humor wraps around the brutal truth and her eloquent writing adds a gentle touch. For anyone wishing to age with flair and clear-eyed grace, Athill provides valuable guidance. Two more recent memoirs by Athill have been published. Any aspiring writer would be well-advised to read one of her books.

Penelope Lively is another accomplished author. Her latest novel How It All Began introduces Charlotte, a retired schoolteacher, forced to move in temporarily with her daughter and son-in-law. She is convalescing after being mugged ( the mugging is how it all began.)  The chain of events spreads across family, acquaintances and strangers in unforeseen ways, as various story lines touch and chance emerges as  a powerful catalyst. Lively instills Charlotte's memories into her awareness of the stories opening up around her.

The changing perspectives of inevitable aging are rich sources of ideas for these gifted authors.


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