Vanity Fair columnist Michael Kinsley escorts his fellow boomers through the door marked "Exit".
The notorious baby boomers - the largest age cohort in history - are approaching the end and starting to plan their final moves in the game of life. Now they are asking: What was that all about? Was it about acquiring things or changing the world? Was it about keeping all your marbles? Or is the only thing that counts after you're gone the reputation you leave behind?
In this series of essays, Michael Kinsley uses his own battle with Parkinson's disease to unearth answers to questions we are all at some time forced to confront. "Sometimes," he writes, "I feel like a scout from my generation, sent out ahead to experience in my 50s what even the healthiest boomers are going to experience in their 60s, 70s, or 80s."
This surprisingly cheerful book is at once a fresh assessment of a generation and a frequently funny account of one man's journey toward the finish line. "The least misfortune can do to make up for itself is to be interesting," he writes. "Parkinson's disease has fulfilled that obligation."
©2016 Michael Kinsley (P)2016 Random House Audio
"Old Age is irreverent, wise, and laugh-out-loud funny about living long enough for your organs to start to betray you. Count on Michael Kinsley to write the book about life you didn't know you needed." (Atul Gawande)
"Political journalist Kinsley, who revealed he has Parkinson's disease in 2002, reads the foreword and introduction of his surprisingly uplifting meditation on aging. When narrator Danny Campbell takes over, his tone and vocal maturity sound a lot like Kinsley's. Adding the appealing texture of his utterly authentic phrasing, Campbell's performance is ideal for this intelligent book.... With Danny Campbell reading, the book's message acquires the power to captivate an even wider audience." (AudioFile)
I'm a lawyer and mediator. I represent businesses in disputes with their insurers and in other complex litigation. I also assist machinery companies and manufacturers (primarily international) with equipment sales, non-disclosure agreements, and business issues. I also mediate commercial disputes.
Having read a review of this book in the Wall Street Journal and being a Boomer, I looked forward to reading this book. The effusive preface only heightened that feeling. Having now sat through it, my advice is simple: Skip it. The best virtue of this book is that it is mercifully short.
Harsh, I know. But here's why:
1. Kinsley says the book is not supposed to be about Parkinson's disease, which he has unfortunately had for years. But it is. Most of the book (at least half) is about Parkinson's disease, and most of that part is about Kinsley.
2. Kinsley says the book is supposed to be about the Baby Boom generation. But it is mostly not. It is about Kinsley. Other reviews refer to the book as narcissistic and self-absorbed. Boy is that true. I've rarely read anything that is this much about me (well, him).
3. The book is apparently based largely on earlier columns. As such, the book is disjointed. Facts and items are repeated. The book needs a good independent editing.
4. The book does not work as a book. It would probably work as two essays: One on Kinsey's thoughts on coping with Parkinson's and one on his general thoughts on the Baby Boom generation.
5. As the book went on, I found myself liking Kinsley less and less. He writes from the viewpoint of an educated, well-to-do male who is quite convinced of the great value of what he has to say. The word smug comes to mind. He seems to assume that everyone in the Baby Boom generation is cut from the same cloth as he is. He apparently has no clue--none whatsoever--about the middle class and lower. He talks about the Baby Boomers paying off the national debt when a huge percentage has nothing saved for retirement, and more only a pittance.
This book is not worth the time, short as it is.
No, I would prefer to read his articles. Seven chapters of Mr. Kinsley is worse than a root canal work.
No, it has stimulated me to write one
I'm 72 y/o with PD (Non-motor, cognitive impairment type). Kinsley's book was redundant, statistical, and non-informative. It is obvious that Mr. Kinsley has a chip on his shoulder, an obsession with death and an overweening need for self-glorification. The book has little to do with "old age" and more to do with the United States' illusion of grandeur and vindication of baby boomers. Mike, you are journalist not a novelist. Relax and enjoy the sun of Vail and quietly fade into the sunset without dragging us with you.
This book seems to be collection of essays so material is repeated and the essays do not seem to be in chronological order. Despite the author's insistence that it is not about Parkinson's disease, a good bit of it is, but that's okay. Where he really lost me was the last chapter. Perhaps it was a joke I didn't get but his over generalizations about the generations and ultra liberal views on health care, Social Security and taxes had me screaming at the recording. And by the way, people do pay taxes on dividends and interest, along with real estate taxes so it is not all just capital gains. I really wish I had the written book so I could make sure I heard it right, but it is certainly not worth listening to again.
The first 6 chapters were okay, but afterwards it was like the writer was grasping for content. It's not a difficult listen, and is worth while as long as you know that if you get Parkinson's Disease, it's like having one foot in the grave.
I too have had bilateral STN DBS surgery and while I'm not in the same shape as the author, I certainly don't feel as pessimistic as he does either. If one doesn't take the "higher road" in this life then there's no reason for optimism; like he said "the only sure thing in this life is that you're going to die." I didn't need his book to tell me that. John
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