It is as if some gauze or screen has been dissolved away from life, that was dulling it, and like Miranda you want to say, What a brave new world! You don’t remember feeling like this, because, younger, habit or the press of necessity prevented. You are taken, shaken, by moments when the improbability of our lives comes over you like a fever. Everything is remarkable, people, living, events present themselves to you with the immediacy of players in some barbarous and splendid drama that it seems we are part of. You have been given new eyes.
—Doris Lessing, Time Bites
Doris Lessing, who turned eighty-seven in October, is telling us what “old” feels like. Not a believer in “the golden age of youth,” she “shudders” at the very idea of living through her teens again, even her twenties. Since she left Africa for England more than half a century ago, a single mother and a high school dropout with a wardrobe full of avatars—angry young woman, mother superior, bad-news bear, bodhisattva—she has published an astonishing fifty-five books. Although Time Bites is her first collection of articles, lectures, book reviews, and broadcasts, The Story of General Dann and Mara’s Daughter, Griot and the Snow Dog is her twenty-fifth novel. Nor does the fact that she’s four inches shorter than she used to be make her a shrinking violet. “Old” is as nice as she gets in Time Bites. Her default mode is usually imperious, as if ex cathedrawere the normal respiration of her intelligence.
more from the NY Review of Books here.