4 out of 4 stars
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Our Autumn Years; not golden but interesting is a book that consists of single-pane comics and short-phrase banners. In a very creative way, it brings attention to some of the thought-provoking events that occur through getting older. For some reason, this is a topic that is avoided by many people, but Arthur Hartz, the author, has hit the nail on the head with his ironic and sometimes dark comics. In seven chapters covering the majority of what it means to get old, Hartz embraces the intricacies of the aged in a truly unique and appealing way.
As I mentioned above, speaking about getting old, especially with someone who is elderly, is not something that people tend to do. People would rather just avoid these delicate topics completely than try to awkwardly ramble about things they may know nothing about. This is a tough subject, and the only way to truthfully capture its difficulties without offence is through humour. Hartz accomplishes this with grace and hilarity.
An added bonus was the effect the comics had on me. Not only are they an accurate representation of what it’s like to get older, but they also reflect the distressing state of society. The treatment that the elderly receive, whether we realise it or not, is patronising at best, and offensive at worst. It is a reminder that older people are not a separate species who need to be treated differently, but instead that they have had lives full of experiences which could be learnt from.
I know – all this from a few comics, right?
But, this does go to show the strength a few truths can hold. Along with the comics, there are a few banners scattered throughout the pages. These consist of epigrams that reflect the tone of the book. One of my favourites is, “My days of having a train of thought are past. Now I have butterflies of thought.” These little witticisms are a great way to break up the comics and added wonderful value to the illustrations.
The only problem that I had with this book is that there were, unfortunately, a few comics that were beyond my understanding. I’m not sure if they just went over my head, or if I was missing something vital, but I just didn’t get them. I think the author may have been trying to say too much with too few words which ultimately led to some of the comics being confusing. However, this definitely did not take away from my overall enjoyment of the book.
I happily give this book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to people of all ages, even though it is a book about getting older. It is a great guide to remind us to treat all people with respect, including and especially those that may have a few years on us. There is a definite sadness to the book, and I’ll end with one of Hartz’s poignantly profound notes: “Someday, someone will understand what interesting people we were.”
Our Autumn Years; not golden but interesting
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