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Sixty: The Beginning of the End, or the End of the Beginning?
Brown, Ian
Vintage Canada / Softcover / 2016-09-01 / 030736285X
Biography and Memoir / Aging Well
price: $22.00 (may be subject to change)
336 pages
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Shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Non-Fiction as well as a finalist for the RBC Taylor Prize, Sixty is a wickedly honest and brutally funny account of the year in which Ian Brown truly realized that the man in the mirror was...sixty. By the author of the multiple award-winning The Boy in the Moon.

Sixty is a report from the front, a dispatch from the Maginot Line that divides the middle-aged from the soon to be elderly. As Ian writes, "It is the age when the body begins to dominate the mind, or vice versa, when time begins to disappear and loom, but never in a good way, when you have no choice but to admit that people have stopped looking your way, and that in fact they stopped twenty years ago."

Ian began keeping a diary with a Facebook post on the morning of February 4, 2014, his sixtieth birthday. As well as keeping a running tally on how he survived the year, Ian explored what being sixty means physically, psychologically and intellectually. "What pleasures are gone forever? Which ones, if any, are left? What did Beethoven, or Schubert, or Jagger, or Henry Moore, or Lucien Freud do after they turned sixty?" And most importantly, "How much life can you live in the fourth quarter, not knowing when the game might end?"

With formidable candour, he tries to answer this question: "Does aging and elderliness deserve to be dreaded--and how much of that dread can be held at bay by a reasonable human being?" For that matter, for a man of sixty, what even constitutes reasonableness?

Reviews and Endorsements:

“Dark, funny, moving, compelling, Ian Brown’s Sixty is his intimate conversation with readers about life, love, regret, aging, and the inevitable changes time brings as he explores his own sixty-first year. Brown is that rare, brave writer who is willing—and able—not only to dig deeply and honestly into his own psyche, dreams, fears, and fantasies, but then to write about them in ways that are both intensely personal and also wisely universal.” —2016 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-fiction jury Carolyn Abraham, Stephen Kimber, and Emily Urquhart.

“[A] great, fat rosebush of a book that’s beautiful and pungent. . . . [B]rown is charming, thoughtful and edifying company. There’s loads to identify with in Sixty. More than that: There’s loads to flat-out adore. Mr. Brown’s reflections on friendship are soulful and worth committing to heart.” —Jennifer Senior, The New York Times

“Brown manages to be both hilarious and serious, and I found his book impossible to put down. When I finished, I went right back to the beginning and started over. . . . [T]houghtful, heartfelt, and fearless. . . . Sixty is a lucid look at a particular kind of contemporary life. . . . [I]t’s evident long before you reach the end that Brown has worked arduously on his prose, crafting sentences and adjusting pace. His ultimate message—to pay attention, to keep our eyes open, to look at ‘what is coming down the road’—is vital.” —Quill and Quire (starred review)

“Sixty may find [Brown’s] biggest audience yet; there are so many of us in the same creaky boat. Written with [Brown’s] trademark gutsy candour, and full of self-deprecating wit. . . . [E]difying . . . accessible. . . . One of the book’s many charms is its distinctly male point of view.” —Plum Johnson, author of They Left Us Everything, The Globe and Mail

“[W]ickedly honest and brutally funny.” —Global News

“[F]unny, honest and profound.” —CBC

“Brown applies his precise insights and self-deprecating humour to the universal anxiety about aging.” —Ottawa Citizen

“Like everything Brown writes, there’s a smooth quality to the prose. The reader is carried along effortlessly on Brown’s thought waves, his regrets (he has wasted his life) and his follies (overspending yet dedicating himself entirely to underpaid journalism). Readers are granted a rare private tour of a very bright, introspective and sensitive man’s brain. It’s raw, it’s real and it’s scary as hell.”—Winnipeg Free Press

“Brown’s diaries . . . are more than readable. They are, despite his doubts, a fascinating blend of astute observation, penetrating insight and self-deprecating good humour. . . . [W]ry and hilarious. . . . [Sixty] taps his own inner and outer lives and the reader is rewarded by Brown’s musings on the existential angst he believes sets in after sixty. . . . [A] unique blend of realism and bravado. . . . Brown’s book is crisp, candid and wonderfully written. No reader, of any age, should miss it.” —The Sarnia Observer

“I would read anything Ian Brown writes. This is a particular pleasure: Humane, funny, dark, wry, and utterly engrossing.”—Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief

“Finding out Ian Brown has turned sixty is like finding out my bad little brother has turned sixty: I’d expect him to have a disarming, slightly disreputable take on this least interesting of birthdays (long now in my rearview mirror). And with Sixty, I’m certainly not disappointed. Ever the witty, ever the mischievous, observant and likable, Ian Brown has written a book that other sixty-year-olds can keep on their breakfast table, to dip into with their Ovaltine. It’s a splendid companion book to aging—a condition when ordinary companionship is, frankly, not always that agreeable.”—Richard Ford

About the Author:

Ian Brown is an author and a feature writer for the Globe and Mail whose work has won many National Magazine and National Newspaper awards. His most recent book, The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Search for His Disabled Son, was a national bestseller and a New York Times and Globe and Mail Best Book. It was also the winner of the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction and the Trillium Book Award. His previous books includeFreewheeling, which won the National Business Book Award, and the provocative examination of modern masculinity, Man Overboard. He lives in Toronto.

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