Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide (Review)

The book’s diminutive size caught my attention, just under 7 by 5 by 1 inches.  Then the title–Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide–clinched the decision to read it.

At first glance, I expected some sort of step by step book along the lines of the “For Dummies” series.  It’s not that, at all.  Michael Kinsley’s book records his experiences with Parkinson’s Disease.  He was diagnosed at a relatively young age with the disease. Old Age consists of a series of essays about his own experiences to attempt to shed some light on a scenario many of us may have to confront later in our lives.

After I discovered the subject matter of the book, I felt some trepidation because my own late father suffered from Parkinson’s Disease.  Thankfully, Kinsley uses his writing skills in a somewhat cheery style to address the disease from his personal standpoint. He sprinkles in his reflections about the baby boomer generation with his accounts of the journey towards the end of life.

Regarding who may come down with age related problems, Kinsley writes, “But it can. And it will, to millions of people who have never taken drugs or misbehaved in any serious way.  They are jogging every day but will get Alzheimer’s anyway. So you need to recalibrate. Is it simply long life that you covet, or is it long life with all your marbles? Isn’t the final boomer game really competitive cognition?”OldAge-02

Michael Kinsley works as a writer at Vanity Fair, is the founder of Slate, and has contributed to The New Yorker. He has served as editor to The New Republic and Harpers. He is an editor at The Economist and managing editor of The Washington Monthly.

Given Kinsley’s resume’, I was disappointed with the book. I chose the book based upon its title. I wish that the title would have included Parkinson’s Disease instead of “A Beginner’s Guide”.  I don’t devalue the experiences of Parkinson’s sufferers, but I think the book is a short anthology of  work thrown together to sell on the strength of the author’s name brand.  The last couple of essays turned out to be weak analyses of the baby boomer generation and degenerated into opinionated political concerns about the national economy.

In the end, I found very little about the book to qualify it as a guide.  I wish the title had been “Old Age: A Parkinson’s Memoir” or something similar. This unimpressive book best qualifies as collectable reading material for fans of Michael Kinsley.

{ Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide by Michael Kinsley; 160 pages, published April 26th 2016 by Tim Duggan Books–Penguin Random House; ISBN: 978-1-101-90376-6 }

mini-moiThe Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Michael Kinsley. “You want to be remembered fondly, of course, but first you want to make sure you’ll be remembered. Most people aren’t.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Books, cultural highlights, Health and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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