The Rinkli Funstaz Book of the Lockdown

Scholarship
All memoirs are essentially about ageing. It is a natural and therefore unavoidable sexagenarian instinct to lean in to the past  -  in search of explanation, amusement, forgiveness. However, almost no autobiography you have ever read is  -  let’s put it out there  - persuasively reliable. Perhaps the knowing reader silently nods at every half-fumbled but very obvious evasion, all the Pollyanna Pollyfilla that covers the cracks of pain and disappointment, the casual casuistry that gets us all, specially the grey and the balding, through the remains of the day. Perhaps it’s also true that the mightier the celebrity of the author, the weaker the credibility all round. Who was it said that you must not touch your idols since the gilt is bound to be left on your fingers?…
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Sat Upon The Rocking Horse

Sat Upon The Rocking Horse

Scholarship
    For the positives’ column, this is an often impressive if occasionally overwhelming dam-burst of stats-n-surveys about the business of ageing in the UK. But here the first problem lies already. Given the abundant literature already on the shelves across the Western world - the whole agequake/ageshift idiom being as old as the internet - there is little, at its best, really new here. (more…)
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It’s a short step from the sentimental to the macabre: beware of nice people telling us to be nicer people.

It’s a short step from the sentimental to the macabre: beware of nice people telling us to be nicer people.

Scholarship
Dr. Murthy seems like a very nice man. One can hold no doubt that he has done much good in his life. But his book is an atrocity. And, with the interest of his fellow-Americans and indeed all the Western world in mind, one is here to tell you how and why. His pitch is simple enough We have lost precious things “in this transition to modern culture”. As we rush to grow personal wealth and achievement and while we linger online with our social media toys, we fail truly to connect with people and thus impoverish our souls. Loneliness is shortening the lives of millions of Americans; we are being murdered by modernity and inter alia the toxic masculinity which it inspires. Money and consumerism do not bring happiness;…
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Smoking greener grass : karmas, dogmas and lifestyle hypochondrias…

Scholarship
It seems to rest in the nature of modern times for us to search for liberating wisdoms in exotic venues, the more remote the better. The best proverbs all come in a foreign accent. Personal happiness can be achieved if we but drop our grubby habits and follow the ways of the Danes or the Japanese or the mystic de-clutterers or the gurus of mindfulness. Invariably, these narratives will contain an injunction to simplify our needs, perhaps find contentment in what we all already possess, disavow consumption of material goods to the benefit of interior balance, isolate what is truly valuable to the spirit… When our current traumas end, versions of this narrative will freshly appear, gaudier than ever. And self-flagellation over claims of national malaise will be as misguided…
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Extra Time : 10 Lessons for An Ageing World / Camilla Cavendish

Extra Time : 10 Lessons for An Ageing World / Camilla Cavendish

Scholarship
The parade of celebrity dust-cover reviewers clearly saw something in Extra Time which I missed. For by page 132 the book was being slammed shut while cool was recovered. The author had been meeting one Professor Leonard P. Guarente of MIT. And then the poor reader gets this: “Does he look 64? It’s hard to tell. Balding, but spry (sic), in a check shirt and faded jeans, kind eyes twinkling owlishly (sic) behind rimless spectacles, he could be younger or older (sic)”. Nobody should be asked to pay for journalese so inert and so pointless. Extra Time is jammed with the kind of observational banality so popular in American non-fiction that it should be the object of serious import restrictions. Even more tellingly, the book does not really have a…
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A lot of knowledge is a dangerous thing : or how wisdom can age…

A lot of knowledge is a dangerous thing : or how wisdom can age…

Scholarship
Heavens above! One just does not know where to start. This is a book so badly conceived, written and edited that it should never have made it out of pulp. All the distinguished persons whose applause rings through the promotional blurb - some favourably name-checked in the text - should consider their position as celebrities and opinion-leaders. On the Future rises not very far above vanity-publishing. All copies should be bundled and shot back to the Big Bang. Proof? Shame on the people at PUP for letting pass into hardback a work with so many disembodied sentences, devoid of self-awareness, as dull as dark matter. Here is a sample (drawn from the dozens available) - coming not from someone passing through a writing-course novitiate but a Cambridge don and the…
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Aging : not for kids and not for hippies

Scholarship
Our new 21st century Third Age is calling forth so many semi-scholarly books which cannot decide whether their goal is to achieve dispassionate social analysis or to offer superior self-help guidance. So it is with The Happiness Curve. From whatever perspective, this is not good karma. But firstly a thought experiment... Imagine you are 75 years of age this very day. Coincidentally contacted by a respectable research agency, you are invited to rate your general level of personal happiness / life satisfaction on a scale of 1-10 (where 10 would equal totally blissed-out). You agree to participate. But a silent inhibition tugs at your guts. “If I say that I am, in fact, dreadfully unhappy, will the whole world know that my whole life has ipso facto been a failure?…
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