by Willard Spiegelman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Writers, readers and wordsmiths can distrust language as much as they venerate it, and often will want no more of it. So writes Willard Spiegelman, although the English professor’s own readers will not willingly give up on his literary learning or insight. A memoir in essays, some nostalgic, others reflective, Senior Moments is the work of a man who knows he has little time left for books (he has reached his “biblical allotment of threescore years and ten”). That, he acknowledges, is partly because the senior, wandering mind can no longer retain plots or dialogue. But his memory can still dazzle: in musings about noise, and how writers write about silence endlessly, we learn about novelist Anne D. LeClaire’s decision not to speak on two Mondays a month, which lasted for 17 years. In an essay titled “Talk”, he writes about the importance of conversation and of his mother, who lacked an internal censor and often said the wrong thing. The book engages gently and also ponders the pleasures of nostalgia, art and solitude. You’ll want to enjoy Spiegelman’s Senior Moments slowly.