To Live in the Center of the Moment: Literary Autobiographies of Aging
- Binding: Hardcover
- Publisher: University Press of Virginia
- Publish date: 12/01/1997
- ISBN: 9780813917573
- ISBN10: 0813917573
America's middle-aged population is reaching record numbers and this boom is having a significant effect on the popular marketplace. Sales of self-help books and aging remedies are soaring, movies featuring older characters are attracting large audiences, and people everywhere are seeking out others' first-hand experiences with aging. The effect is no less apparent in literature; whereas even twenty years ago autobiographies often portrayed a youthful protagonist's coming of age, in recent years narratives of midlife and the elderly have become a popular literary trend.
In To Live in the Center of the Moment, Barbara Frey Waxman examines the emergence of this evocative literature of aging and demonstrates how these autobiographies challenge negative cultural associations of old age. With such texts as Philip Roth's Patrimony, Madeleine L'Engle's The Summer of the Grandmother, May Sarton's At Seventy, Howell Raines's Fly Fishing through the Midlife Crisis, Audre Lorde's The Cancer Journals, and Doris Grumbach's Coming into the End Zone, Waxman has selected narratives that focus not on the broad sweep of a person's life but on the period when aging becomes central to the subject's definition of self. She findsthese various texts filled with contesting voices of youth, middle age, and old age, and with the jostling of male and female genders, the ill and the healthy, the marginalized and the accepted -- contradictions that reflect our culture's inconsistent attitudes about aging.
The author shows how assessing these literary autobiographies has changed her perceptions and helped her come to terms with impending old age.