Rodney Rothman, Early Bird

For some time I'd been picking up and putting down at Munro's Books a yellow paperback with a robin in ostrich pose, namely Rodney Rothman's Early Bird: A Memoir of Premature Retirement. In the end I finally decided to pick it up once and for all, and I'm glad I did. Just the tonic of humour I needed in these dark days of grading.

The story is easily laid out: the LA-based TV show on which 28-year-old Rodney is a writer shuts down, and he realizes he's worked 70-hour weeks for an incredibly long time: "I've spent more time in my office chair than I have in my bed" (p.3). When he thinks about happy times in his life, he fixes on childhood visits to Florida, specifically to visit his retired (and now deceased) grandmother. Against the doubts of his friends and the urging of his agent, Rodney signs up with a roommate-finding service and moves into a retirement community.

Trouble and hilarity ensue: he sucks at shuffleboard, it's really hard to get people to talk to him, and one of his friends is a 93-year-old woman who ends every complaint with some variation of "What the hell, at least my legs still spread" (former comedian, a gig she started in her 80s). Best line, repeated on the back cover: "I don't think Tuesdays With Morrie would have been quite so uplifting if that guy had to spend more than one day a week with Morrie."

This book made me chuckle and smile repeatedly, forcefully enough that I'd forget for whole minutes at a time that I had so much marking to do. I'm perfectly capable of ignoring my workload, but there's a cost in guilt to ignoring it: actual forgetting is much rarer, and I thank Rodney Rothman for these past moments of peace.


fiona-h said…
It's funny you're reading Black Like Me, because I was going to mention it when I read your Self-Made Man post. How long has this been on your "Currently Reading" list? (I just noticed it today).
richard said…
It only made it on there a couple of days ago: I picked it up Wednesday last week, though it had been on my radar for years.

And then I read almost all of it Saturday night while invigilating the exam - wow, what an adventure! Amazing.

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