GAIL SHEEHY ON ‘IN OUR PRIME: THE INVENTION OF MIDDLE AGE’

Gail Sheehy weighs in on my book in the New York Times:

 “Her book is a fascinating biography of the idea of middle age, “a story we tell about ourselves.” Today, more than ever, that story romanticizes the idea that the middle-aged wield enormous power while it also fetishizes the attributes of youth.

She contends that middle age is a “cultural fiction,” an elastic concept reinterpreted by every generation. Academics are already defining the years from 55 to 75 as a distinct category, with labels like “encore generation,” “third age,” or “midcourse.”

Given the vastly elongated life spans of healthy Americans, and the reproductive revolution, people today can afford to take longer to grow up and much longer to die. Ms. Cohen lets us know she could delay marriage until she was 39, choose pregnancy at 40, and still be thinking about what she wants to do when she grows up.

This is a rare personal reference in an otherwise solidly researched book that finds its wide-ranging examples in the work of the Romantic poets, Trollope and Arthur Miller, as well as Bernice Neugarten, a pioneer in the study of adult development.”

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