From The Guardian, Paul Baily’s top 10 stories of old age—and I enjoyed this comment in the introduction:
Old age is a fact of life and should not be isolated from it. More sentimental rubbish has been written about the ‘plight of the elderly’ than I can bear to contemplate.
1. ‘Old Love’ by Isaac Bashevis Singer
This is one of the master’s most poignant short stories, written in his own old age, about a romantic affair between a couple of pensioners.
2. Ending Up by Kingsley Amis
Perhaps only Amis could make someone suffering from nominal aphasia as funny as he is touching. The tone throughout is mordantly comic.
This heartbreaking long short story about a woman with Alzheimer’s and the weird course her life takes while her husband watches in dismay and confusion has all the honest virtues that distinguish Munro from virtually every other living storyteller.
Spark’s masterpiece, with its echoing reminders that we must all die, is horrifically funny from beginning to end. The dialogue throughout is a joy.
Mann’s great novel is concerned with the life of a famous composer who, as the title suggests, has forged a pact with the devil. No other novel matches its deep knowledge of the creative urge.
6. As a Man Grows Older by Italo Svevo
This comic masterwork isn’t strictly about old age, but it is concerned with the attainment of knowledge that comes with the passing of the years.
7. The Old Boys by William Trevor
Trevor’s first novel is funny and moving and quietly observant of the eccentricities to which the elderly are prone.
This novella is told in the first person by an elderly professor who looks back on the unhappy man who was the greatest influence in his life. The story ends with a surprising and touching revelation.
It’s not a novel, of course, but it is arguably the greatest play in the language. We watch in pity and terror as a once proud man is reduced to almost nothing.
10. The Book of Job
One of the masterpieces of the Old Testament, especially in the King James translation. As with King Lear, Job is the victim of malign fate. He has to suffer the indignities of sores and lesions before he is restored to humanity.