There Was an Old Woman: Reflections on These Strange, Surprising, Shining Years (Paperback)

There Was an Old Woman: Reflections on These Strange, Surprising, Shining Years By Andrea Carlisle Cover Image

There Was an Old Woman: Reflections on These Strange, Surprising, Shining Years (Paperback)


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Andrea Carlisle isn’t struggling with her new identity as the Old Woman in the ways society seems to think she should. In fact, she is finding her later years to be an extraordinary and interesting time. In trying to understand the discrepancy, she interrogates the sources of negativity in literature, art, and received wisdom that often lead women to dread this transformative time of life. Given the cultural pervasiveness of ill will toward older women, it is small wonder that growing older is not seen as a natural, even desirable, process. Although some elements of aging are hard to reckon with, there is much to make use of and delight in, along with mysteries, surprises, and revelations.

In these personal essays, Carlisle looks for new ways to bring herself more fully to this time of life, such as daily walks with other women and connecting to the natural world that surrounds her houseboat on an Oregon river at the foot of a forest. She writes about experiences shared with many, if not most, older women: wondering at her body’s transformation, discovering new talents, caregiving, facing loss, tuning in to life patterns and drawing strength through understanding them, letting go (or not) of pieces of the past, and facing other changes large and small.

Those curious about, approaching, or living in old age will find wisdom and insight in her unique perspective. In a voice that rings with clarity, humor, and humility, Carlisle shows us that old age is not another country where we can expect to find the Old Woman grimly waiting, but is instead an expansion of the borders in the country we’re most familiar with: ourselves.

Andrea Carlisle taught fiction and nonfiction for the Oregon Writers’ Workshop and other writing organizations in Oregon and Washington. Her work has been published in literary journals, newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and by independent presses. Go Ask Alice . . . When She’s 94, her popular blog about her mother, brought attention to aging and caregiving before they became subjects of national interest. She has received fellowships from the Oregon Institute of Literary Arts and the Oregon Arts Commission.
Product Details ISBN: 9780870712579
ISBN-10: 0870712578
Publisher: Oregon State University Press
Publication Date: August 31st, 2023
Pages: 216
Language: English
“There Was an Old Woman is neither a memoir nor an angry fist-shaking rejection of the stereotypes, but instead a clear-eyed, moving, personal exploration of what it means to be growing older.” — Molly Gloss, author of The Jump-Off Creek and The Hearts of Horses


"Andrea Carlisle's glorious wry wit and brilliant wisdom have always lit up her readers and listeners so thoroughly that we stand in line waiting for her new book with greatest joy and gusto—as you might stand at an old-fashioned train station trembling to see your long lost loved one coming home at last." —Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners and The Tiny Journalist