The opening paragraph of a novel coming very soon from Algonquin Books:
In the fall of her fiftieth year, Alma finds herself lost in a dark mood she can't seem to shake. It's late September; she has actually not turned fifty yet, but she has already given that out as her age, hoping to get the fanfare and menopause jokes over and done with. It's not her own mortality that weighs heavily on her. In fact, it makes her sad when she reads that women of her profile (active, slender, vegetarian, married) will probably live — if they take care of themselves — to ninety and beyond.
Someone is dying. Or someone has died. Yes?
But wait: Alma first.
We enter the novel through Alma, a woman passing herself off as fifty while she's still forty-nine. My own mother, each year on her birthday, claimed to be twenty-nine — until my brother turned thirty, at which point Mom begrudgingly gained a decade, conceding that thirty-nine was closer to the truth. Rounding up, though? Who rounds up? Having never witnessed this behavior, I asked a smart female friend what she'd make of Alma lying about her age. "Maybe it means that she's bold," my friend said. "She isn't so intimidated by the number that she needs to run away from it. But it's sad that she thinks she needs to prepare herself. If she actually were strong, she wouldn't bother."
Meanwhile, as for "ninety and beyond"? I can't begin to imagine 2060.
My great aunt Yetis was almost thirty when she fled the Russian Revolution. Seven decades later, I was in high school when a teacher from my hometown went up in the Space Shuttle Challenger and didn't come back. Two months after the tragedy, I visited Yetis in Florida. She was still walking more than ten miles a week. For breakfast each day, Yetis slathered two pieces of toast with marmalade. Odd, the details that stay with you — even now, marmalade to me assures longevity.
Back to Alma, though: What for, her dark mood? Or maybe it would be more appropriate to ask, for whom?
Update: Find the author and title.
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Books mentioned in this post
Dave is the author of Out of the Book, Volume 3: State by State