cover image The Middlepause: On Life After Youth

The Middlepause: On Life After Youth

Marina Benjamin. Catapult, $16.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-936787-34-0

This eloquent and intelligent memoir by Aeon editor Benjamin (Last Days in Babylon) tells of the author’s personal experience with sudden menopause after a hysterectomy, when she was struggling with physical pain and hormonal changes and felt “ambushed” by middle age. She lays bare her distress, feeling she was “fast-tracked” to menopause: “Much of the time I feel mournful, assailed by loss.” Menopause’s relationship to aging is deftly cataloged as Benjamin laments the physical changes in her skin, spine, and vigor, as well as forgetfulness. She notes her positive experience with hormonal replacement therapy, yet is conflicted because of its misogynistic history. Benjamin seeks guidance through diverse content: self-help books and online message boards, scholarly writings by Carl Jung and Erik Erikson, Edith Wharton’s novel Twilight Sleep, and writings of the French novelist Colette. This is a measured and beautifully written critique of menopause and middle age that pre-, mid-, and postmenopausal women will find eminently relatable, and that those who love and care for them will likewise appreciate. (Mar.)