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EXTRA INNINGS by Doris Grumbach

EXTRA INNINGS

A Memoir

By Doris Grumbach

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-393-03541-7
Publisher: Norton

 A meandering journal of novelist Grumbach's 74th year that chronicles a final move from Washington, D.C., to the coast of Maine, and that includes brief, often charming, reflections on such diverse topics as mayflies, oxymorons, authors, and death. A follow-up to Coming into the End Zone (1991), which recounted Grumbach's ``intensely despondent'' 71st year, these month-by-month notes seek to examine whether the author's despair has lifted--and whether ``I may come upon some answers to the insistent questions of old age. Or perhaps only succeed in recording the minor thoughts and activities in the life of an aging woman.'' Grumbach begins her journal year with the publication of End Zone and ends it with a ``meditation'' on home, in particular her home in Maine, where she's found ``an interior landscape of serenity, isolation and solitude'' and has become less ``grumpy.'' In between, she offers snippets from La Rochefoucauld, Emerson, Anatole Broyard, and others; descriptions of life in Maine; accounts of her speeches, meetings, and book signings along the Maine/Washington corridor; entertaining anecdotes about the famous and not-so-famous; glimpses of family matters, centered around a daughter's cancer; a musing on love--all nuggets from which novelists craft their tales, but here unconnected and unshaped. Grumbach's work here will inevitably be compared to that of her friend May Sarton: Both are novelists removed to Maine, both are publishing journals on aging. Grumbach, however--probably because she's relatively younger, healthier, and more active than Sarton- -offers an account that's livelier, more wide-ranging, and less self-absorbed, though not much more profound. Written with polish and erudition, here are some budding insights into--but no answers to--the questions of old age.