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 to do but retire and head to a Florida retirement community? It turns out there's a pronounced social hierarchy here, too (mean girls at any age). Early Bird will facilitate excellent discussions about our expectations for retirement and longevity, and about the way life is, no matter the age.
A LitLovers LitPick (Oct. '06)
Rothman manages to be both an observer of these strange beings about three times his age and a sad-sack newcomer trying to blend in with them. He is working a bit of a stereotype, but his descriptions of the loneliness, the cliquishness, the slow-motion desperation of the place ring true and bittersweet.
Neil Genzlinger - The New YorkTimes
With its statistics and laugh-out-loud humor, the book feels more like a stand-up comedy routine with a sociological edge than a memoir. Rothman's seniors are gutsy, feisty, frugal and sometimes irritating, as when they awaken at 6 a.m. to begin waxing and washing their cars.
Diane Scharper - Washington Post
Rothman has been a head writer for David Letterman and has contributed articles to The New Yorker, the New York Times, and McSweeney's. He has also been, at the age of 25, a retiree. Burned out after a few hectic years of work, he decided to quit and move into a retirement village in Florida. This readable account of his exploration of the world of retirement four decades ahead of time provides a glimpse of a lifestyle known popularly only through stereotypes. Rothman becomes king of the shuffleboard court. He arranges an uneasy detente with his condo mate's cats. He infiltrates the Pool Group and inveigles an invitation to canasta. Rothman has done his research, and he applies his reading on retirement to his personal situation with humorous and occasionally poignant results. Nevertheless, the book reads like one extended sketch. Some sections work particularly well, as when Rothman discusses Maribel, the woman he met via JDate. His physical reaction to dancing with a seductive older woman, however, is fair game; and discerning Rothman's guidelines for what is fair game is occasionally more engrossing than the memoir itself. Still, this readable book is recommended for purchase by larger public libraries. —Audrey Snowden, John F. Kennedy Sch., Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico
A former comedy writer for David Letterman does some up-close research on a common South Florida species-the senior citizen retiree-with "findings" more suited to stand-up routine than anthropological tome. The result: lighthearted fluff with a flair, and not without its educational value. Out of work and pondering his not-so-immediate future, Rothman, 28, decides to get an early glimpse of retirement and soon finds himself sharing a Century Village condo with a widowed piano teacher, her several cats and one early rising parrot. Undaunted, the author dives into such delicacies as the ubiquitous nine-dollar "Early Bird" dinner special; a gambling cruise with an all-female social club; a late-night patrol with the volunteer senior citizen police, and "hard-core" bingo at a nearby strip-mall. He samples senior citizen softball, shuffleboard and canasta. He penetrates the cliquish Pool Club's daily poolside chats. He serves bagels at the local Jewish bakery, visits a Yoko Ono art exhibit with the very unappreciative Art Appreciation Club and, at one point, even tries Viagra. Rothman comes to no profound conclusions here. The mostly Jewish fugitives from the chilly Northeast he encounters conform in general to our imagined stereotypes. Still, seeing them up close-waxing their cars at 6:30 a.m., pilfering Equal packets from the local coffee shop, exchanging surprisingly racy jokes over breakfast bagels-makes for fun reading. And the author's fieldwork doesn't go entirely unrewarded, yielding such oddities as Amy Ballenger, a 93-year-old stand-up comic; Artie, a 63-year-old ex-heroin addict-turned real-estate-agent; and Vivian, a sultry 75-year-old Romanian with five ex-husbands and enough sex appeal to stir even the author's libido. Rothman also provides just enough serious data on aging (for example, the positive effects of staying active and socializing) to make this breezy, humorous tour both entertaining and rewarding. Witty and conversational prose, peppered alternately with sarcasm and compassion: easy, enjoyable reading.
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