3 out of 4 stars
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Have you pictured yourself twenty or thirty years from now? Would you hire a sixty-something-year-old? These are some of the issues discussed in A Bonza Life: The Story of a Baby Boomer, a memoir written by Brian Murphy. The author is an Australian born in 1951; he is part of a generation called Baby Boomers (those who were born during the post-war economic boom, between 1946 and 1966).
The narrative begins with the story of Murphy’s parents and his happy childhood and teenage years in Australia. Brian was the fourth son of John Murphy (an Irish who departed his country at age eighteen) and Ethel Joyce Daniels. He was a typical teenager who liked the Beatles and football. I admired how much of a family man Murphy is. The theme of familial love underlies the whole memoir. For instance, there is a very moving chapter called “Death of a Rose” in memory of the author’s late sister Pamela, who had breast cancer.
A good part of this book is interesting, but some parts are not so much. Let’s start with the positives. I enjoyed the author’s portrayal of the 50s and 60s. His memoir offers readers a slice of history; it illuminates the historical conditions that shaped a generation. “Everyone seemed to play sport, and we were all lean and mean." No takeaway food then, and he walked to and from school (four miles a day). He also mentions bell-bottom trousers, colorful shirts, and double-breasted coats.
Above all, the author explores the issue of ageism in an interesting manner. I liked how Murphy narrates the foundation of Baby Boomers of New Zealand and Australia (BONZA) to help Boomers find work, use technology, take care of themselves, and enjoy good health in their mature years. He felt that many of them are struggling with rapid changes in the world.
Unfortunately, like many memoirs, the author sometimes lost himself in unnecessary detail, and he also repeated himself a bit. He tells readers what he is going to narrate, then he narrates it, and then, once again, he talks about what got narrated. Therefore, we read about the same events several times. Additionally, when he describes dating, we stumble upon some outdated, stereotyped remarks about women, such as “Girls did not chase you in most cases like they do today, and it all took time and effort.”
Finally, I rate A Bonza Life 3 out of 4 stars. Due to the negatives previously mentioned, I am taking a star away. The book seems professionally edited; I only found a few minor editing mishaps. The author considers himself an average Baby Boomer. In my opinion, that is also the case with this book. I believe it will appeal mostly to Murphy’s generation.
A Bonza Life
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