An octogenarian offers a random assortment of short texts.
Carlson (Second Thoughts While Aging, 2011, etc.) completes his trilogy on growing old with this slim collection of 32 vignettes. These untitled texts are set in verse format, usually without a rhyme scheme, and under a page in length. With respect to content, there is much here that one might expect to find in a volume of this nature, such as placing a freshly washed plate in the refrigerator. The author, a widower mourning the loss of his wife, seeks companionship. He is also a senior citizen dealing with myriad health issues, including neuropathy, arthritis, and emphysema. In one amusing moment, a friend mistakes Carlson’s bare feet for alligator shoes. Carlson also wonders whether Lamont and Margo, the main characters from the classic radio show “The Shadow,” ever fooled around during their adventures. Beyond that, he comments on diverse topics, such as the beauty of hugs, life on Cape Cod, the impact of Mount Rushmore, and the joy of unexpected carolers. Occasionally, he delves into politics. For instance, after extolling the importance of difference, he writes: “If we all succumbed” to the “same view points… / we would all be Democrats. / That is not a very good thing.” It is also worth mentioning that he plays fast and loose with spelling (“Santa Clause”) and punctuation rules (“natures way”). Still, some readers will find Carlson’s pronouncements entertaining. Along those lines, this representative entry captures the author’s fondness for ellipses as well as his self-deprecating, improvisational tone: “I write stuff down… / when I think of it. / Other guys write stuff up… / as they see it. / I am an author. / They are reporters. / Neither one” of us knows “what we are talking about.” Overall, he reminds us that despite the challenges of aging, the alternative is worse.
Sketches about aging that are worth a few chuckles, particularly for older readers.