Press Release

            How do people take to retirement? One retiree said his adjustment took from the time he left his desk for the last time until he reached his car in the parking lot. This ease of transition isn’t universal, however. Just thinking about retirement arouses fear in some people; then they get over it, and they find filling in what they missed during their work years quite a pleasant phenomenon. That is the central message in a wide-ranging new book titled Retiring Minds: Life after Work, collected and edited by Susan Thurin.

The original idea for the book was to be lighthearted, and some writers have taken that approach, as in a colonoscopy story which is downright hilarious. However, retirees tend to be reflective, so their writings vary from the matter-of-fact to whimsical, from amusing to sad. Their stories are full of wit and wisdom and they share them with candor.

The book begins with “Retirement Angst,” four views of the nature of retirement. First is a tale about a wrenching decision to retire. Another writer presents retirement as an opportunity to dodge moralizing about time and purpose while two others ponder their new life with tranquility. The rest of Retiring Minds describes the scope of “Life after Work.” One example is Gene Bloedorn who gave up art to take up writing and gives us a story as intricate as the drawings he once did. Three contributors describe segueing their professional writing into a retirement occupation. Included are selections from Erik Thurin’s journals with poignant thoughts about mortality.

It would be remiss to have a collection about the experience of retirement without acknowledging the effects of time rolling on. This is attended to creatively with a photo essay about retired buildings, a humorous commentary on “geriatria” – places where elderly people congregate, and the health scare story mentioned above. 

Travel, a favored activity of retirees, is recognized with a loving account of a trip to England and a description of pulling up stakes and moving to Texas. Volunteerism is exemplified in Lee Nichols’ account of his Red Cross work in New Orleans after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and in the account of a librarian at the Library of Congress who now cooks for the homeless. A less-traveled “Life after Work” path is followed by a former English teacher devoting herself to the theater.

The book closes with writings on work and family responsibilities: revisiting the debate about women balancing career and family, care giving and the death of a spouse.

In all, twenty-one people contributed to the book. Most taught at UW-Stout, and the rest are from other UW-campuses, Illinois, and Washington. The authors include deans and teachers of art, economics, English, family studies, hospitality and tourism, speech, sociology, and theater. More about the contributors, the book and where to buy it is at susanthurin.com.

Six of the local authors will read short sections from their writing and be available for chatting and book signing at Bookends on Thursday, February 21, 3-5 p.m.

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