The Vintage Years: Finding Your Inner Artist (Writer, Musician, Visual Artist) After Sixty

Francine Toder. Aziri (Baker & Taylor, dist.), $23.95 (285p) ISBN 978-0-9882059-2-5
Toder, a retired clinical psychologist, combines her experience as a late-blooming cellist with recent research into the psychosocial development of older people and the nature of the “healthy aging brain” to proclaim that going over the hill doesn’t have to be all about decline; in fact, it can lead to a “fertile valley on the other side.” Toder (Your Kids Are Grown: Moving On With and Without Them) demonstrates that the brain after 60, characterized by slowed-down processing, better focus, and hemispheric integration, is surprisingly well-suited to the pursuit of physical, mental, and creative challenges—endeavors that support brain plasticity, social interaction, and self-expression. She goes on to address the problem of “limited good role models of successful aging” by relating the life stories of musicians, visual artists, and writers who began pursuing their craft in their later years; these profiles illuminate delightfully distinct personalities and artistic visions, though Toder’s attempts to finagle theory into the discussion are occasionally disruptive. A summary chapter on how to become an artist devolves flatly into flow charts, but Toder’s scientific acumen and the inspiration of these exceptional—yet everyday—elders will be sure to kick-start readers’ explorations of their own late-in-the-game creative potential. (Mar. 25)
Reviewed on: 12/10/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
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