On turning 40. Donald Justice and John Irving

The most creative birthday email I have received today quotes a poem by Donald Justice, as quoted in John Irving’s Hotel New Hampshire, as well as the response by the protagonists’ brother Frank:

And, when Frank was forty, I would send him a birthday greeting with Donald Justice’s “Men at Forty” poem enclosed.

Men at forty
Learn to close softly
The doors to rooms they will not be
Coming back to.

Frank fired me back a note saying he stopped reading the damn poem right there. “Close your own doors!” Frank snapped. “You’ll be forty soon enough. As for me, I bang the damn doors and come back to them all the fucking time.”

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