Mr. Kinsley is now 65, with body more or less intact, and wits entirely so, if his superb new book is any indication. Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide isn’t really about Parkinson’s. It’s about aging in general. More specifically, it’s about how the baby boomer generation, which is now rounding third base like a herd of buffalo and stampeding for home plate (which is a hole in the ground, as the novelist Jim Harrison liked to say), will choose to think and act in the face of it.
Whether offering a final set of goals for achievement-oriented boomers, describing his DBS (deep brain stimulation) surgery, debating stem-cell research or defending his decision after the Parkinson’s diagnosis ('I chose denial'), Kinsley, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post, is refreshingly straightforward and often wickedly funny...Even for those who distrust generational labels — the Greatest Generation, baby boomers, millennials — and those who have a very different perspective on old age, this book is well worth reading. It offers bracing humor about the inevitabilities most of us find hard to contemplate at any age, and it encourages us to keep on thinking about the future while we still can.
Some of this book’s chapters were published as separate essays in The New Yorker and The Atlantic, and either because of inattentive editing or unavoidable transitional needs, the same information is reintroduced several times — a nuisance in so small a volume but not a great crime. The book is attractively designed and just the right size — 4? by 6? — to slip into one’s pocket or purse. In short, it’s been packaged as a nifty impulse purchase. One could do worse than give in to the impulse. If it’s possible for a book about illness and death to be delightful, this one fills the bill.
To [Parkinson's], and to his wider topic of old age, Mr. Kinsley brings wisdom and artfully suppressed anger, wistful humor, well-pitched prose and the bite of the thinker against the pretenses of the world....Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide is not a little book about economics or Parkinson’s disease, but it is a big little book about what happens when we begin to think beyond who has won the race.
Kinsley starts with a clever title and carries a droll sense of humor through all 160 pages. Sprinkled in are some wise nuggets of advice on how to deal with aging, disease and that awful day when you have to give up driving ... Much of the book deals with Parkinson’s disease, despite Kinsley’s halfhearted denial that it will be ... Kinsley proposes a way for the boomer generation as a whole to leave behind a good reputation... You might not die laughing, but that’s proof that laughter is the best medicine. Kinsley’s book is prescribed.
Kinsley, Vanity Fair columnist and founder of Slate, doesn’t offer boomers much in the way of self-help in his new book, Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide. No, this is an exercise in generational self-assessment that falls tonally somewhere between What’s It All About, Alfie? and Is That All There Is?