Paying Full Price on Black Friday for Judith Viorst's Latest

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Don and I first came across the work of Judith Viorst when we bought her It's Hard to Be Hip over Thirty and Other Tragedies of Married Life. Clearly, that was a long time ago, considering that (in the midst of Black Friday sales) I just stumbled over Unexpectedly Eighty and Other Adaptations. Mind you, in the intervening years, we probably treasured her work more for such children's classics as Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and The Tenth Good Thing about Barney (even though I could never manage to read Barney aloud). The point is: Judith Viorst always seems to have something to say that's either simply funny or simply enlightening. Translation: Her books are always worth buying - and some passages are worth memorizing.

So I didn't wait for a sale - or even to buy the book on Amazon (though, obviously, I've got the link right here). I grabbed it up, paid $17 at Barnes & Noble, and then doled out the material to myself, a two-page spread at a time. This time around, my favorite is probably "Exceedingly Eighty," written as a comment on the current saying, "Eighty is the new sixty." Each verse ends: "Eighty is not the new sixty./ Eighty is eighty." She's always seen things clearly - and helped the rest of us see them clearly, too. In the meantime, though, her most motivating poem for me was published a decade ago in I'm Too Young to be Seventy and Other Delusions. A portion thereof:

You want to slow down time?
Try root canal.
Try an MRI.
Try waiting for the report on the biopsy.
Or try being a child on a rainy morning
With nothing to do,
Wishing away the hours, the days, the years,
As if there will
Be more.

I hope that sobering sample does not exceed fair use. If it does, I'll take it down. What I'm saying is that, if you've somehow managed to get this far through life without reading what she has to say, you owe it to yourself to check out some of her books, at least at the library.

 In the meantime, I'll begin rereading Unexpectedly Eighty.


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