Aging paints every action gray, lies heavy on every movement, imprisons every thought"" if you're old; if you're young (and this is a culture in which everyone is desperately young) it just occasions avoidance. This is essentially what this collage of experiences and thoughts about old age is all about -- the segregation and discrimination and, on more literal terms, institutionalization of the old; the pettiness with which we view the end of life which is no longer the best that is to come. There are people threading their way throughout this account, from the more self-sufficient and independent oldsters of author Curtin's small town Wyoming past, her grandparents and Jim Crowe and the ""Garbage Man,"" to those she has met in the last two years in more modern urban circumstances (really lack of them) -- a hotel for indigent ""pensioners"" or a New York City welfare dump or a retirement community or an extended care facility (here she warms up, singeingly) which is the equivalent of a parking lot. Ten percent of our population is old and ""It is a full time job to be old and poor,"" cutting corners here, queuing up there. There is so little security; and there is no dignity at all. The loss of contact between the young and the old is mutual, denying everyone a perspective of the continuum between life and death. Perhaps many of us know this even if we don't want to know it -- certainly we should all read this even if we don't want to read it. A gentle, unsettling, involving book -- particularized and personalized with concern.