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didn't care about dialogue or structure. . . . A sub-plot . . . was either a German U-boat
movie, or subsidence at the cemetery. We didn't know from subtle emotions to
pie-in-the-face. Every spy movie . . . used . . . the same actors to play the same characters.
We never got enough of them.' Thus writes Walter A. Atkinson railing against the demise
of yet another sub-culture from 'his good old days of yore.' Forgive Us Our Senior
Moments is Atkinson's first book and he has fun with it. It's one man's interpretation of
America--how it used to be and how it is today. The writing is droll and delightfully
sardonic, with a touch of nostalgic, old-fashioned patriotism thrown in for good measure.
One can almost feel Atkinson's perverse glee as he takes his forty year supply of 'private
gripes and wisdom pearls' and just 'lets it rip.' Truly a volume on senior reflection and
opinionated thought, these essays connect practically every social problem in America
today to a self-proclaimed 'cultural revolution' of the mid-1960s.
Chapters cover ancestors, retirement, sex, music, sports, religion and lots of
politics. On retirement, and a riveting sense of impending doom, Atkinson states, '. . . if I
had my druthers, I'd be shouting the line Anita O'Day was singing with Gene Krupa's
band in 1941, '. . . just let me off uptown.'' He talks of family and friends, and adventures
while growing up in a small Pennsylvania community. A whimsical essay on religion looks
forward to year 3001 and the evolved theology of Presleyanity amid the pomp of a world
class event celebrating the 1,024th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. The religiosity of
all humanity is literally absorbed there in a ceremony of August 16th and a holy pilgrimage
to the sacred city of Graceland, diocese of the Most Holy Apostolic Presleyan Heartbreak
Hotel & Church of America, for the annual observation of Rockabilly Requiem. This
chapter, alone, is worth the price of the book.
The writing is an 'enlightened' citizen's wistful return to the Great Depression,
World War II, and the early Fifties--a journey with roots, so to speak--critiquing now . . .
today, relative to more traditional times when America as a different place made a
difference. Atkinson's message will hit home with thousands of seniors who are living out
final days balancing sacred moments of joy and sorrow from the author's aptly described
blue ribbon years, against his 'inane, do as you please, liberal tripe' of the last several
decades. Most will relate to Atkinson's throwback passion for family, country and God,
and his repetitive query, 'How did America ever get from there to here?'
Naturally, as any thesis with a political slant will do, folks of another viewpoint
will be totally bent out of shape by much of the author's intended wisdom. Liberals will be
particularly upset as Atkinson hammers away with gleeful redundancy on foibles at the
heart of their core beliefs--the first and foremost being: Scare the hell out of old folks, and
keep doing it year after year, after year, after year, ad nauseam. He takes certain notable,
liberal politicians to task, citing, where apropos, their public, decadent personal lifestyles,
as well as their innate inability to fool the people-at-large if ever they should be of a mood
to posture as statesmen in public. As Atkinson states in his preface, 'Where convictions
differ feel at liberty to consider my view a senior moment.'
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It is a book of excellence as one generation is rolled into the other. A very true to life book where as the characters advance in reaching their destiny however small, they are always setbacks and stumbling blocks, not allowing them to see the light at the end of the tunnel, reminding us of the pathways we've walked before and are forever walking in. This was a very emotional book for me with great depth to the story line.
It is a long book and should be read with patience in order to get the gist of the Detroit the author penetrates in that century with it's poverty, racial and violent concerns. You won't forget Maureen Wendall who some will empathise with you see her desires and the things she yearns for with all her heart and soul.......and you won't forget her brother Jules either...intelligent and so very intricate you wonder what he is about to do next with that brain that never stops ticking. I cannot help saying what a brilliant writer I have found in Ms. Oates, and I encourage those who love her as much as I do to try THEM. I recommend it to all her favourite readers who haven't read this one as yet.
March 2nd, 2002.
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