To be completely honest, my Pulitzer Prize challenge is not going well this month. I’m stuck in my novel, trying to finish editing and hand the manuscript off to my editor before I go on vacation next week. This doesn’t leave much time for reading. *Pouts* I have started Less, this year’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, but I’m only 19% finished. *Yikes*
One thing that strikes me about Arthur Less, the protagonist of Less, is how his age – he’s on the eve of his fiftieth birthday – is considered old. Sure, the fact that he is now middle-aged is a main theme of the novel. He’s having a crisis of sort now that his lover of nine years is getting married to another man. But still, I have to ask – is fifty old?
I admit to approaching the age of fifty at a speed with which I’m not entirely comfortable. I will, however, deny I’m old. In fact, I’ll scream it among the rooftops. Excuse me a moment. *Yells outside her balcony thus proving to her neighbors once again that she’s eccentric*
I admit this is a sensitive issue for me. I’ve written several novels with protagonists who are in their forties. They use words like awesome and BFF, drink more than they should, and get into all types of embarrassing or dangerous situations. I’ve received more than one nasty review declaring that forty-year-olds don’t act like that. What? That’s exactly how I act (although dangerous is a bit of an exaggeration unless we count my tendency to think I can outrun trams when biking while drunk).
When someone is old has changed over the decades. The lifespan of an American male is seventy-nine years. That’s nearly ten years longer than when I was born. (Yes, that’s a very vague hint as to my age.) When I was growing up, forty seemed old. Most people I knew who were forty were grandparents. Grandparents!! Even though I’m on the flipside of forty, I have hardly any contemporaries who are grandparents.
People also tend to remain active longer. My gym is full of men and women in their forties and beyond. And some of them look darn fine, if I do say so myself. (No, not me, I’m referring to my buff hubby.) So, sorry, Andrew Sean Greer but late forties/early fifties is not old.
*I hereby reserve the right to change my mind about Arthur Less and any ideas about his age upon finishing the novel Less*