It seems inevitable that the dawn of a new year will inspire reflections on new beginnings, but this annual desire for renewal has rarely been as fervent but as dubious as it was at the start of 2022, as we envision another pandemic season. and bad weather. , real and political. The following audiobooks may offer some hope in their claim that it’s never too late to start over.
“Old in Art School: a thesis to start over”
If there’s a silver lining to life in the tumultuous 1920s, it’s how that difficult decade caused so many to re-evaluate their lives and careers. Accomplished historian Nell Irvin Painter was at the top of her field when, at the age of 64, she left her professorship at Princeton to enroll as an undergraduate in art at Rutgers and then a Master of Fine Arts at the Rhode Island School of Design, rekindle a long dormant urge to create images and express oneself without constraint. A seasoned black educator long accustomed to the racist and sexist facets of college life, Painter now encountered ageism when she joined her much younger cohort, striving to open her mind and eyes to the aesthetic of the 21st century while rejecting the “complete, alloy-free.” [expletive]Hawked some of his instructors. Painter’s rich and engaging narration of “Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over” alternates candid and witty observations on his own journey with art history lessons and thoughtful reflections on fuses. of art in the world and in his own life. Then she should try podcasting: it’s natural.
“The new old me: my end-of-life reinvention”
On a lighter note, “The New Old Me: My Late-Life Reinvention” by Meredith Maran, narrated with duly neurotic enthusiasm by Christina Delaine. After a traumatic break-up with his 20-year-old wife, Maran, 60, leaves his Oakland home for an editorial job at an Los Angeles fashion company, finding himself like a fish out of water surrounded by trends and trends. concerned about their image. millennia as she struggles to make new friends, adjust to the SoCal lifestyle, and maybe love again. Nothing is going as planned, but since when? Delaine oscillates between tears and laughter, exasperation and ironic verve. “Security? Stability? God laughs. Me too.”
If chance and circumstances make us who we are, they can just as easily take our lives in a whole new direction. This is the case of Willa Drake, the sympathetic heroine of Anne Tyler’s 2018 novel “Clock Dance”. After traversing the decades through several formative episodes in which her life is shaped, often rather carelessly by the men who make her up, the reader joins Willa at 61, the widowed mother of two estranged sons, now remarried to an old man. stuffy, semi-retired affairs whose golfer life has dragged her to Arizona, where she seems likely to gently fade into air-conditioned, sweet-mannered drivel. Then an unlikely call from her son’s ex-girlfriend’s neighbor, Denise, who is recovering from a random hospital shooting, lures Willa to Baltimore to care for Denise’s precocious daughter, Cheryl, and the family dog, Airplane. With subtlety and skill, narrator Kimberly Farr draws us into Willa’s amused dismay and bewilderment as she finds herself adopted by a colorful group of skillfully portrayed neighbors, and realizes that life can still hold some surprises. Tyler’s genius for underestimating is perfectly conveyed by Farr, whose poise and restraint help make this second chance story utterly compelling.
Listeners who prefer a more whimsical approach to redemption and re-enchantment will appreciate “Harry’s Trees” by Jon Cohen. Harry Crane, a tree-loving forest service official, has given up on life. A year after the tragic death of his wife, he heads for the woods, intending never to get out alive. Instead, he walks into someone else’s story. Young Oriana’s father died the same day as Harry’s wife, and since then she has taken refuge in the fairy tale world, encouraged by her local librarian. Harry is clearly destined to play a part in her imaginations, if only to reconcile her with painful realities she is unable to cope with. Josh Bloomberg gives a lovely read on this lovely adult fairy tale, its crisp storytelling offset by a range of quirky characters, young and old, and just enough wonder to make the magic real.