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Publisher's Summary

The good news is that the great thinkers from history have proposed the same strategies for happiness and fulfilment. The bad news is that these turn out to be the very things most discouraged by contemporary culture. This knotty dilemma is the subject of The Age of Absurdity - a wry and accessible investigation into how the desirable states of well-being and satisfaction are constantly undermined by modern life.

Michael Foley examines the elusive condition of happiness common to philosophy, spiritual teachings and contemporary psychology, then shows how these are becoming increasingly difficult to apply in a world of high expectations. The common challenges of earning a living, maintaining a relationship and ageing are becoming battlegrounds of existential angst and self-loathing in a culture that demands conspicuous consumption, high-octane partnerships and perpetual youth.

In conclusion, rather than denouncing and rejecting the age, Foley presents an entertaining strategy of not just accepting but embracing today's world - finding happiness in its absurdity.

Cover credit: The Caravan Gallery.

©2011 Michael Foley (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

A curmudgeonly rant

I regret wasting a credit on this book and confess I didn't make it past the first chapter, the purpose of which is to generally set the tone for the rest of the book. If you are a cynical curmudgeon, looking for something to confirm and validate all of your negative biases then this is the book for you. If, on the other hand you have, like me, suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune to arrive at a happy and contented middle age, then this book will do little more than put you in a negative mood for the rest of the day. I bought the book half expecting the sort of satirical observation that Bill Bryson does so well, but the author of this comes across as angry, bitter and lacking any redeeming charm. I would imagine him to be the sort of dinner guest who seldom gets invited twice. How can I be so judgmental having only listened to the first chapter, you may ask. Because I rapidly found myself losing the will to live, and that alone was reason enough to switch it off, swallow the loss of a credit and go and do something more enjoyable with my time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars

Pointless, absurd rant. Save your money.

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

If the book had any point whatsoever. The first half of it is an endless rant of nonsense, then he tries to salvage it by quoting the popular research that you find everybody quoting in modern non-fiction books.

What was most disappointing about Michael Foley’s story?

The endless banter that went on and on and on, all while waiting for a point.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of John O'Mahony?

I don't think his accent helped at all.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Where's my money? How do I return this? I really paid for this?

Any additional comments?

I'd like my money back. Or a credit or something. Seriously, this was a waste of time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Funny, on point and cranky

The narration is top notch and the subject matter is compelling and presented in a quite humorous fashion. I do feel like some concepts were over simplified to allow for a more cohesive narrative, but that is forgivable given the depth of the subject matter.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Excellent pessimistic take on modernity

While at times I found the constant criticism of modern life to sound a bit like whining or unfair, after thinking about the points a little more, I found if taken by themselves they express in distinct brevity the heart of what really is the trapping of the topic at hand. I also found the occasional example to be misleading with a type of brief Google search research that is done by most laypeople. With those criticisms of the book out of the way, I found the book to be exactly what I needed and wanted; an all encompassing work on what's wrong with modern culture. While the author seems to be from Ireland, I found that this did not hinder his work being relevant for Americans.

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A few tidbits here and there, but primarily an old man's rant

If you come away with anything from this book, it should be that "the striving for happiness is itself the happiness." There are several variations on the theme repeated around the book. But unfortunately, most of it just comes across as an older guy passing snarky, sarcastic judgment on some of society's newer trends. In particular, his obvious derision for people who derive pleasure from video games is cringe-inducing.
In many examples, he brings up ridiculous strawmen and then dutifully crushes them as he attempts to point out the "absurdity" of modern life. But I doubt many of the likely readers of this book has ever fallen to some of the depths that he uses as examples.
I'm not sure whether I should praise or damn Audible for using an Irish narrator to read an Irish author's book, but it is Mr. O'Mahony's reading which gives this title all of its dripping sarcasm, whether or not that was the original author's intent.

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  • WildMike
  • 08-31-16

In yer face modern philosophy!

Laced with a cynical barb Foley's words are sharp, intelligent and funny. Well read too.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • A Person
  • 11-19-16

A very long moan interspersed with occasional wit

Quite early on in the book Foley makes the perceptive observation that no philosopher ever recommended moaning about the world. Foley would do well to listen to himself.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael Doherty
  • 07-25-17

Intelligent funny and engaging

Loved it. I read the book a few years ago but discovered it anew with this version. Lots of quotable quotes. Tons of insights and just the right amount of wry humour. Michael Foley is the new 'fantasy dinner guest'

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  • Roderic
  • 08-18-18

Interesting but hard to glean its main purpose

I enjoyed this discussion but I was distracted by the sarcasm in the narrator's voice. I do understand that the text is to some degree sarcastic but the voice was irritating. The book covered an interesting range of philosophical references but I found it difficult to find a central argument or theme... apart from the Absurdity itself.

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  • Todd Murphy
  • 06-12-17

Brilliant narration

Perfect choice of narrator. Makes for an audio book that I can easily recommend over reading the paper version for that alone.