A great read about growing old

We did our Friday Roundtable today about the perils, costs and benefits of living longer. The conversation was inspired by Ezekiel Emanuel’s recent article in The Atlantic provocatively titled “Why I Hope to Die at 75.”

As a counterpoint, read Roger Angell’s lovely article from The New Yorker about being a 93 year-old widower in New York City. He misses his wife. He misses friends. He lists his many ailments — pain from shingles, creaky knees, sore back — but also paints a portrait of a life that sounds lovely and worth living.

I am a world-class complainer but find palpable joy arriving with my evening Dewar’s, from Robinson Cano between pitches, from the first pages once again of “Appointment in Samarra” or the last lines of the Elizabeth Bishop poem called “Poem.” From the briefest strains of Handel or Roy Orbison, or Dennis Brain playing the early bars of his stunning Mozart horn concertos. (This Angel recording may have been one of the first things (my wife) Carol and I acquired just after our marriage, and I hear it playing on a sunny Saturday morning in our Ninety-fourth Street walkup.) Also the recalled faces and then the names of Jean Dixon or Roscoe Karns or Porter Hall or Brad Dourif in another Netflix rerun. Chloë Sevigny in “Trees Lounge.” Gail Collins on a good day. Family ice-skating up near Harlem in the nineteen-eighties, with the Park employees, high on youth or weed, looping past us backward to show their smiles.

And if you want more to read about getting old, here’s a list of 10 novels and stories assembled by writer Paul Bailey. It includes Muriel Spark’s funny and dark “Momento Mori.”

And here are the books mentioned by our Roundtable guests:

Michael O’Keefe: “Wonderful Life” by Stephen Jay Gould.

Lou Bellamy: James Baldwin’s “Another Country” and “The Fire Next Time.”