A Realistic View of Aging in Literature

  image courtesy of the Picador Book Club

image courtesy of the Picador Book Club

Last fall, I read Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, and a few months later, I read Home, another emotional, intricate, and stirring novel by Robinson (which happens to be a sort of companion story to Gilead).

I highly recommend both books.

Not only are they brilliantly written, both of Robinson's works feature strong elders as her main characters; Gilead is actually narrated by one.

The perspective is heart-breaking at times, but what amazes me most is the honesty, vibrancy and accuracy with which Robinson portrays the leading elders, who are both men.

As they face frailty and struggle with dependency in old age, the men also wrestle with the unresolved hurts and painful memories that they've carried throughout their lives. Best friends and retired reverends from the small Iowa prairie town of Gilead, Boughton and Ames are forging their living legacies and finding ways to reconcile their pasts, presents and futures in a world that is ebbing and flowing and changing around them every day -- and all in the context of their families, whose members are dynamic and fluid and broken and blessed.

I'm always grateful for books, films, paintings, songs, and any other type of artistic creation that grasps the rich complexities of aging in a truthful, illuminating, and authentically human way. Marilynne Robinson has accomplished this feat and I applaud her for it.

What books, poems, and songs about aging speak to you? Whether they are funny, sad, inspiring or thought-provoking, please share them here.