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Early Bird (Review)

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Early Bird: A Memoir of Premature Retirement
Rodney Rothman, 2005
256 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
October 2006

Funnyman Rothman has written a funny book. And like all good joke stories, this one contains more than a kernel of social truth.

Rothman, a former joke writer for both Saturday Night Live and David Letterman, is 28 and burned-out. So what else is there to do but head to a Florida retirement community?

Out of the rat race into the swimming pool, Rothman makes some keen observations about the over-65 crowd. He detects loneliness, adolescent cliquishness, and an undercurrent of desperation. Under the Floridian sun, an ambulance prowls the streets, a ghostly reminder that death lurks sooner than later for residents.


Most of all, though, Rothman has fun, sometimes at the expense of his elders but more often at his own. This is particularly so when his displays of weakness (physical and mental) surpass those of his betters, who happen to be 50 years his senior. He joins the softball league only to learn that he's the lousiest player on the team.

He plays bingo and shuffle board, attends dances, and eats dinner at 5:00 to get the early bird specials. He listens to poolside gossip and learns that the emphasis on body beautiful is no less obsessive among the older set than the younger. It turns out there's a pronounced social hierarchy here, too (turns out there are mean girls at every age). A number of book clubs say Early Bird facilitated excellent discussions about our expectations for retirement and longevity, and about the way life is, no matter the age.

See our Reading Guide for Early Bird.

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