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Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite
Jerry and Walter are two old fellows in their eighties, living in a rather exclusive Californian retirement village. They share an interest in postage stamps, with Walter specializing in issues from nations that are no longer in existence. The Third Half of Our Lives, subtitled Two Old Guys Not Selling Anything, by Jon Foyt recounts their conversations as they pontificate on their lives, circumstances and old age. Meandering through sometimes deep, sometimes inconsequential subjects, the narrative twists and turns and often wanders off at a tangent as conversations with the elderly tend to do. They reflect on their achievements, their careers, and marriages and ponder on how the members of modern American families seem so distant from each other, both in outlook and location. Though ensconced in what the majority of old people around the world would consider a life of luxury, they nevertheless sense that something is missing. Walter has found some solace in Buddhism, but while Jerry is still trying to find his true self, some surprising, sometimes unpalatable details from their past lives emerge from their conversations.
I found much to admire in The Third Half of Our Lives. Apart from the clever title, there are some sharp observations and thought-provoking insights, such as the comment on how children see their parents: children see their parents in the same way we see an actor on the stage or the screen. We all see the character they play, the image the actor becomes, not the person the actor is beneath their stage facade. On the other hand, however, I found myself becoming frustrated by these well-off old fellows’ complaints about how their children ignored or failed to understand them, their concerns about living too long and their finances running out, but most of all how, at their advanced age, they were still trying to find their ‘true selves’. If nothing else, the book demonstrates that no matter how wealthy, secure, comfortable and cosseted people can be, they can still be made miserable by the memories of their life events. I have to add that The Third Half of Our Lives is well-written and the characters solid and believable. Jon Foyt is a talented author.