cover image MY TWICE-LIVED LIFE: A Memoir of Aging

MY TWICE-LIVED LIFE: A Memoir of Aging

Donald Morison Murray, . . Ballantine, $21.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-345-43690-0

A Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, the prolific Murray (A Writer Teaches Writing) has, since 1987, written over 650 installments of "Over 60," a weekly Boston Globe column. Now 75, he has reworked his Globe columns into a remarkable autobiography of aging: "Now, rushing forward but living backwards in the evening of my life, I appreciate the texture of my life, the wonder of the ordinary as never before." He begins by describing his heart attack, at age 62, during a Florida business trip. Returning to Durham, N.H., after surgery, he pondered retirement but instead started to write, adhering to the ancient Roman advice he had followed for many years—"nulla dies sine linea, not a day without a line." In the early chapters, he contrasts his lonely childhood and other events in his life with "the journey of aging, a rafting trip down a river I thought familiar but that became more unfamiliar—and faster—the further I traveled." He recalls his first night jump as a paratrooper, winning a Pulitzer Prize at the Boston Herald when he was 29, fatherhood, fears, family tragedies, depressions, deaths and near-deaths. War stories from "the surreal confusion of battle" in WWII trigger associations with violent memories of civilian life. Meanwhile, health problems mount—his own and those of his second wife, Minnie Mae; "eventually," he acknowledges, "old age becomes a grim business." And yet, "as the horizons grow closer," he concludes, "I will always have narrative as my companion." So will the fortunate reader of this poetic and magical memoir. Agent, Michael Rosenberg. (June)

Forecast:Murray's Boston Globe columns have won him fans who will buy this book—but its appeal is potentially much greater. Advertising in the New York Times Book Review, as well as New England bookstore appearances, should help Murray find—and expand—his readership.