A moving collection of essays on aging and happiness
Drawing on more than six decades' worth of lessons from his storied career as a writer and professor, Willard Spiegelman reflects with candid humor and sophistication on growing old. Senior Moments is a series of discrete essays that, when taken together, constitute the life of a man who, despite Western cultural notions of aging as something to be denied, overcome, and resisted, has continued to relish the simplest of pleasures: reading, looking at art, talking, and indulging in occasional fits of nostalgia while also welcoming what inevitably lies ahead.
Spiegelman's expertly crafted book considers, with wisdom and elegance, how to be alert to the joys that brim from unexpected places even as death draws near. Senior Moments is a foray into the felicity and follies that age brings; a consideration of how and what one reads or rereads in late adulthood; the eagerness for, and disappointment in, long-awaited reunions, at which the past comes alive in the present. A clear-eyed book of memories, written in eight searching and courageously honest essays, Senior Moments is guaranteed to stimulate, stir, and restore.
Explaining the title of this essay collection, 70-year-old Spiegelman (Seven Pleasures) refers to its eight sage and witty selections as "backward and forward glances by a senior citizen who has reached his biblical allotment of three score years and ten." In "Talk," he fondly recalls conversations at family get-togethers, and deems conversation "the essential human art." By contrast, when traveling in Japan, where he had virtually no grasp of the language, he notes that "what we do not understand, what we cannot read: this is what strikes us abroad." Several essays express his appreciation of different places where he has lived, notably "Dallas," about adjusting to the city's incongruities after he moved there to teach English at Southern Methodist University, and "Manhattan," which concludes with a magnificent chronicle of a daylong culinary trek from the borough's top to its bottom. And any dedicated reader will agree with his observation in "Books" that "a genuine reader will pick up anything in sight" even a matchbook cover when nothing else is available. Spiegelman writes with a casual, engaging style and frequently punctuates his paragraphs with references to literature that crystallize his ideas. Readers will find this volume rich with relatable insights.