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The Power of Experience

Great writers over 50 expound on the quest for a lifetime of meaning.

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What is the value of a life deeply lived? Can fragments from the past help us navigate the future? What good is wisdom in a world bewitched by ephemera?Some of our best writers over 50—including Billy Collins, Julia Alvarez, and Maxine Hong Kingston—tackle these and other questions in this honest, hard-hitting collection about the search for meaning in the second half of life. In moving works of self-discovery, they illuminate the fine art of growing up and the power of experience to transform one's life.

Amy Tan, for example, opens the door on her turbulent relationship with her mother, fueled by the realization that she "would never meet my mother's standards of beauty." Robert Stone examines the web of relationships maintained by an ordinary man—and how an extraordinary occurrence leads him to understand what it means to become an adult. Richard Russo uses a nude beach as the perfect setting to bare the rifts of a trouble marriage—and its ever-present capacity to be healed by "a sudden and powerful resurgence of affection and trust."

In her introduction to this anthology, Gail Sheehy muses: "As we stand on the mountaintop of midlife and look back at the path we've taken, the stories we tell ourselves change." This one-of-a-kind collection is an invitation to re-imagine those stories—and to unearth parts of ourselves that have lain dormant far too long.

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