David Shields

Books Reviews David Shields
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David Shields

Life. Death. Can’t have one without the other

Did you know that the human ability to exactly duplicate foreign sounds is lost after age 12?

That IQ usually peaks by the time we turn 25? That 40 percent of women grow hair on their upper lip by age 55? That we’re already dying once our life begins?

Author David Shields peppers his ninth book with tidbits such as these, but this tome is more than a rehashing of long-forgotten biology lessons: It’s a kind of love/hate letter to his 97-year-old father who refuses to go gently into that good night. (At age 86, he suffered a heart attack while playing tennis—but ?nished the match before going to a doctor.)

Shields meticulously weaves family anecdotes with what great thinkers (among them Schopenhauer, Voltaire) and celebrities (including Woody Allen and the Phoenix Suns’ Steve Nash) have said about aging and death. The thing about this book, happily, is that it turns out to be surprisingly more uplifting than moribund.