Winner of the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography and a New York Times bestseller: a prize-winning, critically acclaimed memoir on life and aging —“An honest joy to read” (Alice Munro).
The old write to us from the past in language that seems to be clearer, less cluttered than our own. Think of V. S. Pritchett or Penelope Fitzgerald in their 80s, Patrick Leigh Fermor or P. G. Wodehouse nearing their 90s, all models still of accuracy and economy on the page. We should credit not their years, perhaps, but their time. Such writers inhabited a pre-electronic era when words were carefully expended and sentences retained a classical elegance. The opening of Wodehouse's 1935 novel The Luck of the Bodkins is a famous example: "Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French."