Dave Barry Turns 50

Dave Barry, Author Random House Large Print Publishing $22 (464p) ISBN 978-0-375-70418-5
Pulitzer prize-winning columnist Barry claims, ""Many bad things happen when you turn 50. You can't see; you can't hear; you can read the entire Oxford English Dictionary in the time it takes you to go to the bathroom; and you keep meeting people your own age who look like Grandpa Walton."" Even so, in this follow-up to his bestselling Dave Barry Turns 40, he decided not to dwell ""on the negative aspects of turning 50"" and instead offers a ""celebration of the aging process"" by examining significant baby-boomer accomplishments (""The New Age movement! Call waiting!""). Barry begins with boomer origins in the late 1940s, a time when record players ""were closer in design and sound quality to washing machines."" Each subsequent decade gets a full chapter as Barry waxes nostalgic while shuffling down pathways of the past to examine an assortment of arcane artifacts and ""actual facts,"" largely gleaned from Rita Lang Kleinfelder's 750-page When We Were Young: A Baby-Boomer Yearbook. Barry ends each chapter with ""Discussion Questions"" (""Did you inhale? Explain.""), and maintains mirth right to the closing pages (retirement plans, death options). However, it's the look back at TV commercials, politics, inventions and attitudes that really makes those who have seen it all (much of ""it"" through trifocals) chortle out loud. It's not unlike an archeological dig through an attic, choking from laughter rather than dust, as familiar and forgotten memories are refreshed and taken for a satirical synaptic spin by a master humorist. 13-city birthday tour. (Oct.) FYI: Appropriately enough, this title is also available as a Random House audio ($18 ISBN 0-375-40428-7) and in a large-print edition ($22 ISBN 0-375-70418-3)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998
Release date: 09/01/1998
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