The Power of Experience: Great Writers over 50 on the Quest for a Lifetime of Meaning

The Power of Experience: Great Writers over 50 on the Quest for a Lifetime of Meaning

by Jeremy Janes
     
 
What is the value of a life deeply lived? Can fragments from the past help you navigate the future? What good is wisdom in a world bewitched by ephemera?

Some of our best writers over 50 tackle these and other questions in this honest, hard-hitting collection about the search for meaning in the second half of life. In moving works of self-discovery, they illuminate

Overview

What is the value of a life deeply lived? Can fragments from the past help you navigate the future? What good is wisdom in a world bewitched by ephemera?

Some of our best writers over 50 tackle these and other questions in this honest, hard-hitting collection about the search for meaning in the second half of life. In moving works of self-discovery, they illuminate the fine art of growing up and the power of experience to transform your life.

Amy Tan, for example, opens the door on her turbulent relationship with her mother, fueled by her realization that she “would never meet my mother’s standards of beauty.”

Robert Stone examines the web of relationships maintained by an ordinary man—and how an extraordinary occurrence forces him to understand, at last, what it means to become an adult. Richard Russo uses a nude beach as the perfect setting to bare the rifts in a troubled marriage—and its ever-present capacity to be healed by “a sudden and powerful resurgence of affection and trust.”

Our compulsion to recapture what Russo terms our “old, younger selves” emerges forcefully in verse as well. Maxine Hong Kingston undergoes a mid-career change of heart that has her mocking her muse (“I have misplaced two mindfulness belts, just when I’m learning not to lose glasses and keys so often”). And Billy Collins antically contemplates a few places in which he really wouldn’t mind being caught dead.

“As we stand on the mountaintop of midlife and look back at the path we’ve taken,” writes Gail Sheehy in her introduction, “the stories we tell ourselves must change.” This one-of-a-kind anthology is an invitation to re-imagine those stories—and to unearth parts of ourselves that have lain dormant far too long. Reading this book, Sheehy adds, will inspire you “to turn over your own fields of memory. If we do the same spade-work, we may be able to reframe a crucial recollection and use it as a signpost for the rest of our journey.”

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

What is "experience"? In this anthology edited by Janes, a former English teacher and AARP communications officer, it is varied and open to wide interpretation. His selections of passages from various works of fiction, poetry, and memoir-all previously published, most within the past five years-by a variety of notable authors (e.g., Mary Oliver, Alice Munro, Richard Russo, Julia Alvarez) focus on diverse topics. Rita Dove comments on discoveries made at a public library in the 1960s, Amy Tan reflects on the meaning of beauty, and Jane Juska shares her delightful late-life adventures in sexuality. Beyond the writers' ages (all are over 50), the unifying element of the collection is difficult to pinpoint, but perhaps that is the point: experience is unique to the individual. That some of the selections are from works of fiction and poetry complicates matters somewhat: Are these the experiences of the author or of the characters the author has imagined? This may not matter at all to readers intrigued by the idea behind the collection. Interesting biographical summaries follow each entry. Recommended for large public libraries.
—Stacy Russo

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402748875
Publisher:
Sterling
Publication date:
10/01/2007
Series:
AARP Series
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.00(d)

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