Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide

Michael Kinsley. Crown/Duggan, $22 (160p) ISBN 978-1-101-90376-6
In this collection of eight essays, Kinsley (Please Don’t Remain Calm), a columnist at Vanity Fair, a New Yorker contributor, and the founder of Slate, proposes—somewhat facetiously—that life is a game in which all of us are in competition. As such, he asks, what does it mean to “win” at life? Does it pay off to have the most possessions, live the longest, or be remembered best? Kinsley doesn’t really present an answer, but it’s enjoyable to follow his train of thought. The focus is ultimately on coming to terms with the final chapter of life, which, in Kinsley’s case, means coming to terms with being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Throughout, Kinsley showcases his fine writing, tackling a potentially depressing subject with a mixture of humor and serious reflection. Though targeted most specifically to Kinsley’s own generation of the baby boomers, the book might be helpful for anyone who has a progressive illness. Readers are almost forced to accept the premise of life as competition, as it appears time and again throughout, and some may find this disconcerting. However, Kinsley’s superb prose and well-judged tone—both frustrated and hopeful for the future—make this a valuable book for anyone interested in exploring ideas around life, death, and legacy. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/29/2016
Release date: 04/26/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 978-1-101-90378-0
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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