Zezima's (Nini and Poppie's Excellent Adventures: Grandkids, Wine Clubs, and Other Ways to Keep Having Fun) latest anecdotes about life in retirement pack colossal humor into bite-sized stories, revealing a man unfalteringly devoted to his wife and family. Zezima's long career, as a syndicated humor columnist specializing in droll observations about everyday life, gives him a unique perspective from which to expound on the different ways that retirement has changed him. He recounts interactions with his beloved grandchildren, home improvement projects, and an ever-changing dynamic with his wife, Sue. Each chapter compiles several short anecdotes or observations, with titles like "How to Bathe a Baby" and "Love at the Landfill."
Zezima's nonstop puns and self-deprecating tone are balanced by his warmth and humanity. His grandchildren own a large part of the stage, and his witty recounting of their adorable antics brims with the loving devotion of retired grandparents. His natural penchant for hamming it up while storytelling is evident when he breathes life into mundane topics like needing a new fridge or applying for Social Security. The chapter of interviews about retirement with friends and former colleagues is surprisingly introspective and informative, highlighting Zezima's reporter's instinct and knack for comedy.
Zezima deflects darker emotions with satire and deliberately keeps the tone light, even when discussing things like the coronavirus and its effect on his marriage. Gratitude for life is palpable on every page. Zezima's childlike curiosity about the world around him, particularly the histories of people he meets, forms the basis of entertaining quips and reminiscences ("I am proud, happy, and really fatigued to say that I took a six-hour safe driving course sponsored by AARP"). Zezima has seriously elevated his shtick in this hilarious and heartwarming chronicle of grandparents gone wild.
Takeaway: Readers will chuckle at Zezima's propensity for puns and appreciate his outpouring of genuine warmth and love for family.
Great for fans of: Graham Harrop's Living Together After Retirement, Clive Whichelow's Retirement For Beginners.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
BOOK LIFE REVIEW
A collection of humorous, short essays, extolling the fun of retirement and the delights of grandparenting.
Toward the end of Zezima’s tenure as an editor at Newsday, he was looking forward to retiring, so when the paper offered him a buyout, he jumped at it. However, he continued to write regular columns about whatever strikes his fancy for Hearst Connecticut Media Group and Tribune News Service of Chicago, and this is his fifth volume of essays. His work is filled with chuckles (and a few groaners). His upbeat take on aspects of everyday life offers pleasant distraction from today’s stresses, whether he’s writing about going to the supermarket or about his favorite subject: his five grandchildren. (He revels in his self-appointed role as a fun grandpa, nicknamed “Poppie.”) One essay about his coming down with a persistent “illness that so baffled medical science that it was impervious to prescription medication,” however, seems particularly timely. Indeed, his later riffs on life during the Covid-19 pandemic will strike a chord across all reader demographics—not just his fellow retirees. Although Zezima generally targets only himself with his gentle, free-flowing barbs—in “Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow,” for instance, he decides to give himself a quarantine haircut—he makes an exception when he takes on Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor of Texas. In 2020, the latter suggested publicly that elderly people should be willing to sacrifice themselves to keep the economy open during the pandemic. In Zezima’s essay, he humorously highlights his own “contributions” to the economy, enhanced by his continuing good health, and his importance to his wife, children, and their offspring, and concludes: “I trust that you understand why it would be a bad idea for me to sacrifice myself, Lt. Gov. Patrick. If you want to do it, go right ahead.”
An edgy, loving take on current events and family.