UNTIL THE SINGING STOPS: A Celebration of Life and Old Age in America by Don Gold

UNTIL THE SINGING STOPS: A Celebration of Life and Old Age in America

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KIRKUS REVIEW

These 20 interviews with people in their seventies and eighties are meant to demonstrate the vitality and individuality of the aged; instead, they produce 20 outlines for ""My Most Unforgettable Character."" Gold's introductions are the tip-off: ""She does not show a single sign of weakening. Her smile remains winning; her spirit is contagious. She does not plan to slow down."" By asking the same overly general questions--on America in the 20th century, parents, children, morality, marriage, religion, work, politics, retirement, death--in much the same order, Gold robs these people of their individuality. And that takes some doing in a group that includes the famous (the Nation's Carey McWilliams, violinist Alexander Schneider), the important (a Planned Parenthood bigwig, a National Park Director), and the merely remarkable: Herman Karlen got his M.D. and went into practice at 62, Frances Teresa learned to swim at 71. Despite this diversity, the population-range is small--most of the subjects are professionals or artists, half are Jewish, the bulk are well-to-do. Occasionally, these folks manage to display their personalities instead of their views. Josephine Davis promised her husband never to divorce him--then added, ""the first time you mention money, I'll divorce you."" Pipeline worker Earl Bitzenburg claims ""Civil rights is all right, but I won't mix my color."" But spontaneous remarks and recollections are few. For the most part we get repetitions of the notion that people once amused themselves better and liked their work more, that retirement is bad and sex is unimportant. Not quite unexpected.

Pub Date: Oct. 9th, 1979
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston