Rodney Rothman's midlife crisis came early. After losing his television job at the advanced age of 28, he resigned from the working world and moved into a retirement home. Perhaps not surprisingly, the shuffleboard set at Boca Raton's Century Village regarded him as an unwelcome alien. As the months wear on, though, Rothman's acclimates to the local early-bird specials and farcical turf wars. Eventually, he even joins a senior softball club and learns to his embarrassment that he is the worst athlete on the team. Early Bird offers an offbeat, comical view of aging in public.
With its statistics and laugh-out-loud humor, the book feels more like a stand-up comedy routine with a sociological edge than a memoir. Rothman's seniors are gutsy, feisty, frugal and sometimes irritating, as when they awaken at 6 a.m. to begin waxing and washing their cars.
The Washington Post
Rothman manages to be both an observer of these strange beings about three times his age and a sad-sack newcomer trying to blend in with them. He is working a bit of a stereotype, but his descriptions of the loneliness, the cliquishness, the slow-motion desperation of the place ring true and bittersweet.
The New York Times
Rothman has been a head writer for David Letterman and has contributed articles to The New Yorker, the New York Times, and McSweeney's. He has also been, at the age of 25, a retiree. Burned out after a few hectic years of work, he decided to quit and move into a retirement village in Florida. This readable account of his exploration of the world of retirement four decades ahead of time provides a glimpse of a lifestyle known popularly only through stereotypes. Rothman becomes king of the shuffleboard court. He arranges an uneasy detente with his condo mate's cats. He infiltrates the Pool Group and inveigles an invitation to canasta. Rothman has done his research, and he applies his reading on retirement to his personal situation with humorous and occasionally poignant results. Nevertheless, the book reads like one extended sketch. Some sections work particularly well, as when Rothman discusses Maribel, the woman he met via JDate. His physical reaction to dancing with a seductive older woman, however, is fair game; and discerning Rothman's guidelines for what is fair game is occasionally more engrossing than the memoir itself. Still, this readable book is recommended for purchase by larger public libraries.-Audrey Snowden, John F. Kennedy Sch., Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A former comedy writer for David Letterman does some up-close research on a common South Florida species-the senior citizen retiree-with "findings" more suited to stand-up routine than anthropological tome. The result: lighthearted fluff with a flair, and not without its educational value. Out of work and pondering his not-so-immediate future, Rothman, 28, decides to get an early glimpse of retirement and soon finds himself sharing a Century Village condo with a widowed piano teacher, her several cats and one early rising parrot. Undaunted, the author dives into such delicacies as the ubiquitous nine-dollar "Early Bird" dinner special; a gambling cruise with an all-female social club; a late-night patrol with the volunteer senior citizen police, and "hard-core" bingo at a nearby strip-mall. He samples senior citizen softball, shuffleboard and canasta. He penetrates the cliquish Pool Club's daily poolside chats. He serves bagels at the local Jewish bakery, visits a Yoko Ono art exhibit with the very unappreciative Art Appreciation Club and, at one point, even tries Viagra. Rothman comes to no profound conclusions here. The mostly Jewish fugitives from the chilly Northeast he encounters conform in general to our imagined stereotypes. Still, seeing them up close-waxing their cars at 6:30 a.m., pilfering Equal packets from the local coffee shop, exchanging surprisingly racy jokes over breakfast bagels-makes for fun reading. And the author's fieldwork doesn't go entirely unrewarded, yielding such oddities as Amy Ballenger, a 93-year-old stand-up comic; Artie, a 63-year-old ex-heroin addict-turned real-estate-agent; and Vivian, a sultry 75-year-old Romanian with five ex-husbands and enough sexappeal to stir even the author's libido. Rothman also provides just enough serious data on aging (for example, the positive effects of staying active and socializing) to make this breezy, humorous tour both entertaining and rewarding. Witty and conversational prose, peppered alternately with sarcasm and compassion: easy, enjoyable reading.
"A hilarious reminder that everybody was young once . . . everyone except Rodney." Jon Stewart
"A hilarious account of moving into a Florida retirement community at age twenty-eight. . . . Rodney Rothman's premise is so silly and fetching . . . sections had me hooting so hard that I thought the neighbors would be over to check on me." Karen Long, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
"[Rothman] has produced a warm, wry bit of reportage. . . . His descriptions of the loneliness, the cliquishness, the slow-motion desperation of the place ring true and bittersweet." Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times Book Review
"It's hilarious. It's one of the best books I've read. If you're looking for a book, get this one." Howard Stern
"Rothman's observations are insightful and clever a humorous, Generation X perspective on what baby boomers are about to discover." Rocky Mountain News
"This book, which has a pretty silly premise, quickly and thoroughly becomes something much more: it's actually emotionally involving, and even profound. It's very funny, because Rothman is always very funny, but it's also truly moving, and, at its core, unspeakably sad. That's not to say it isn't fun to read. It is. It is!" Dave Eggers
"Old-fashioned retirement at age twenty-eight? Funny sure. But Rothman is also riveting, friendly, and the good kind of sad." Sarah Vowell, author of Assassination Vacation
"A hilarious memoir . . . David Sedaris fans, this one's for you." Daryl Chen, Glamour