Monday, March 7, 2011

Book Review: Lastingness -- The Art of Old Age by Nicholas Delbanco

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (January 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446199648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446199643


America grows older yet stays focused on its young. Whatever hill we try to climb, we're "over" it by fifty and should that hill involve entertainment or athletics we're finished long before. But if younger is better, it doesn't appear that youngest is best: we want our teachers, doctors, generals, and presidents to have reached a certain age. In context after context and contest after contest, we're more than a little conflicted about elders of the tribe; when is it right to honor them, and when to say "step aside"?

In LASTINGNESS, Nicholas Delbanco, one of America's most celebrated men of letters, profiles great geniuses in the fields of visual art, literature, and music-Monet, Verdi, O'Keeffe, Yeats, among others - searching for the answers to why some artists' work diminishes with age, while others' reaches its peak. Both an intellectual inquiry into the essence of aging and creativity and a personal journey of discovery, this is a brilliant exploration of what determines what one needs to do to keep the habits of creation and achievement alive.

My Review:

3 stars out of 5

My mother enjoyed this book much more than me, as she said it was directed more towards an older audience (those over the hill).  In this book, Delbanco's provides an uplifting approach to sharing how even though you may be old in age, you can still achieve greatness and be productive.  He gives examples of people who continue to thrive as they age.  For those who are looking to retire, don't think that if you haven't accomplished anything, that you never will.  Take this new time to experience life in a different way.  Take out your list of must do items and accomplish them today.  There is nothing stopping you, and you will feel so much better enjoying life in the moment, than just sitting back and letting the time pass.

If you are looking for a book that deals with old age, this would be a good book to pick up.  The only drawback of this book, is that Delbanco only hashes over great figures of the past, kind of like he is sharing notes he took on these.  He doesn't delve deep into each person and share reasons for their existence or how their successes shaped them in their old age. It just felt like it was lacking more substance.

About the Author:

Nicholas Delbanco has published twenty-four books of fiction and non-fiction. His most recent novels are The Count of Concord and Spring and Fall; his most recent works of non-fiction are The Countess of Stanlein Restored and The Lost Suitcase: Reflections on the Literary Life. As editor he has compiled the work of, among others, John Gardner and Bernard Malamud. Director of the Hopwood Awards Program at the University of Michigan, he has served as Chair of the Fiction Panel for the National Book Awards, received a Guggenheim Fellowship and, twice, a National Endowment for the Arts Writing Fellowship.

Disclosure:  I was given a copy of this book by the Hachette Book Group in order to write an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

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