Composing a Further Life

  • by Mary Catherine Bateson
  • Narrated by Sevanne Kassarjian
  • 10 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Mary Catherine Bateson sees aging today as an "improvisational art form calling for imagination and willingness to learn", and in this ardent, affirming study, she relates the experiences of men and women - herself included - who, upon entering this second adulthood, have found new meaning and new ways to contribute, composing their lives in new patterns.
Among the people Bateson engages in open-ended, in-depth conversations are a retired Maine boatyard worker who has become a silversmith and maker of fine jewelry; an African American woman who explores the importance of grandmothering; two gay men finding contentment in mutual caring; the retired dean of a cathedral in New York City who exemplifies how a multiplicity of interests and connections lead to deeper unity; and Jane Fonda, who shares her ways of dealing with change and spiritual growth.
Here is a book that presents each of us - at any age - with an exhilarating challenge to think about and approach our later lives with the full force of imagination, curiosity, and enthusiasm. At the same time, it speaks to us as members of a larger society concerned about the world that our children and grandchildren, born and not yet born, will inherit. "We live longer," she says, "but we think shorter." As adults find themselves entering Adulthood II, making the choices that will affirm and complete the meaning of the lives they have lived, they can play a key role, contributing their perspectives and their experience of adapting to change. In our day, wisdom is no longer associated with withdrawal and passivity but with engagement with others and the contribution that Bateson calls "active wisdom".


What the Critics Say

"Bateson has drawn on a life trajectory, replete with varied experiences, and has composed an exquisite and wonderfully readable book about composing a further life, one that is entering its richest phase. Whether life begins at thirty, fifty or eighty, the wisdom she conveys will make each of the reader's days a fuller one." (Harvey Cox, theologian)
"Because Bateson lets various people retell their own stories of grappling with the challenges and the freedom of Adulthood II, her book is a deep meditation on the value of longevity and an inspiring testimony to the power and possibilities that come with growing older." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Not For ME

Would you try another book from Mary Catherine Bateson and/or Sevanne Kassarjian?

Not Likely

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

That the author was so diligent in attaining success (most interesting)
The number of words used to talk about it (least interesting)

Did the narration match the pace of the story?


Was Composing a Further Life worth the listening time?

Not for me.

Any additional comments?

The style and content was just not my cup of tea. It was a beleagering slog through developmental psychology of a good person, who did great work and who deserves to be recognized for same. It was just too much. If I had not listened through ear buds while I weed-wacked the perrimiter of 4-acres of weeded property, I probably would not have endured the seemingly endlessness of this work. Some may love the book. Maybe in 5-years if I listen again, I may have (favorable) raves. This time; no go.

Read full review

- Peter

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-14-2010
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio