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Publisher's Summary

Mesmerized, at times unnerved, by his 97-year-old father's nearly superhuman vitality and optimism, David Shields undertakes an investigation of the human physical condition. The result is this exhilarating book - both a personal meditation on mortality and an exploration of flesh-and-blood existence from crib to oblivion. It's an exploration that paradoxically prompts a renewed and profound appreciation of life.

Shields begins with the facts of birth and childhood, expertly weaving in anecdotal information about himself and his father. As the book proceeds through adolescence, middle age, and old age, he juxtaposes biological details with bits of philosophical speculation, cultural history, and criticism, and quotations from a wide range of writers and thinkers, from Lucretius to Woody Allen, yielding a magical whole: the universal story of our bodily being, a tender and often hilarious portrait of one family.

A book of extraordinary depth and resonance, The Thing about Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead will move listeners to contemplate the brevity and radiance of their own sojourn on earth and challenge them to rearrange their thinking in unexpected and crucial ways.

©2008 David Shields; (P)2008 Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"David Shields has accomplished something here so pure and wide in its implications that I think of it almost as a secular, unsentimental Kahlil Gibran: a textbook for the acceptance of our fate on earth." (Jonathan Lethem)

What members say

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  • Overall
  • Mark
  • Evanston, IL, USA
  • 03-10-09

Too much of the author's uninteresting story

There are bits that have interesting facts about aging but you have to sit through boring stories of the author's life in between the interesting points. I frankly don't care who he dated, stories of him going to ballgames with his dad, etc.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Roberta
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • 11-12-09

If you're looking for Humour, don't get this book!

For what I thought would be a humourous book, this turned out to not only be totally devoid of humour, but a somewhat graphic
(and depressing) discussion of the relentless progression of physiological issues we can expect as we age. As a member of the baby boomers, this is the LAST thing I want to hear!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Interesting but not Inspiring

Read this book if you are interested in how we age but not if you are looking to be inspired by the process. With some things in life I prefer the country lyrics "I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then".

1 of 1 people found this review helpful