Non-fiction accounts of the elderly tend to focus on the end of life and on the children who are their caretakers. These do address the reality of aging but are often more about the impact of decline on those who love them than on the people themselves. If they look backwards to a time before, it is almost always about the relationship they had with the child now taking care of them in their final years. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Bettyville, and The Bridge Ladies are just some of the fairly recent entries into this unflinching look at aging.
How long this trend of older or elderly people as main character will last, I don't know. But while it does last, I am enjoying it, enjoying being reminded of the verve and spark, the very humanity of people who deserve to be seen even when we might want to close our eyes to the fact of mortality and all of our inevitable ends. I want to acknowledge the poignancy and the mischievousness and everything else too though. I still have a couple of books that will do for this on my shelves or on my wish list: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared and The Heart of Henry Quantum. Are there more that I'm missing? Let me know!
This week my reading travels didn't take me very far at all. I went along with a woman looking back at her past and the boy/man she once loved who ended up in a very different place than she did. I was on Nantucket as a mother grieved the death of her autistic son and the loss of her marriage while another woman contemplated the loss of her own identity in the wake of her husband's infidelity. And now I am in California during the modern day Gold Rush as well as learning about the historical event that preceded it. Where did your reading travels take you this past week?