In addition to the end-of-civilization meme, I seem to be very much attracted about books that talk about what it’s like to be old. I am not seriously preparing for Apocalypse, but the thought of preparing for old age does occur to me. Not that I read for that purpose explicitly; but perhaps there is a hint of foresight in preferring to learn about what’s ahead, rather than to reminisce in what’s been left behind.
Here, in no particular order, a few books on the topic.
- The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood. Delightful.
- A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Marina Lewycka. Somewhat whimsical, but with more than a ring of truth behind the farcical surface.
- Exit Ghost, Philip Roth. For the lowdown on what it’s like to be impotent and incontinent and unwilling to accept it.
- Saturday, Ian McEwan. An Alzheimer’s patient, from her son’s point of view.
- Elegy for Iris, John Bayley. A real – not a fictional – Alzheimer’s patient, author and philosopher Iris Murdoch. In her husband’s words.
- Slow Man, J. M. Coetzee.
- Man in the Dark, Paul Auster.
What would you add? Yourcenar’s Mémoires d’Hadrien, perhaps?