MAKING IT THROUGH MIDDLE AGE: Notes While in Transit by William Attwood


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An agreeable blend of autobiography and advice-from-one-who's-been-there--but readers less fortunate than Attwood may find him complacent and irritating. The fates have smiled upon him, as he recognizes, from his college days in Princeton through a distinguished career in journalism (foreign editor of Look, etc.), two ambassadorships (Guinea and Kenya), the presidency of Newsday, and his current, early but active retirement (two years ago, at 60). The only significant grief to come his way, it seems, was two heart attacks (he recovered nicely), a mild stroke (no aftereffects), and some of the usual marital and parental tensions. So it's hard to take this not very battle-scarred veteran of upper-middle-class life seriously when he tells retirees, for example, that the best way to handle the ""onslaught of program chairpersons looking for speakers"" is to sign up with a lecture bureau. Worse yet, Attwood occasionally lurches into a sort of executive washroom Philistinism, as when he pronounces that ""Golf is a good deal trickier and more complex and much harder to master than sex."" Most of the time, though, Attwood just chats genially about his experiences, milking them for their modest supply of wisdom. He writes of sex (""brief encounters"" may be OK in middle age, but it's time to wind down), marriage (""one is best, more can be troublesome""), the younger generation (don't bother preaching to them), work (the key to fulfillment), sickness (puts everything in perspective), death (an agnostic humanist, Attwood awaits it with serenity), etc. The view of the world from Attwood's carefully cultivated garden in New Canaan, Conn. is likely to appeal chiefly, in short, to those similarly situated.

Pub Date: May 24th, 1982
Publisher: Atheneum