Reading List: Super Seniors

reading-list

April 5, 2019

Old Geezers

Three old geezers, activists, and lifelong friends reunite at the funeral of the wife of one of them, Antoine, who finds out about a long ago liaison between his dearly departed and the reviled billionaire who owns the factory they all worked in. Livid, Antoine jumps in his car and heads for Italy with revenge on his mind, his two buddies and his pregnant granddaughter following close behind. A chance to reminisce about the past, to fantasize about sticking it to the man, to discuss what’s wrong with the world, to bridge the generation gap, to forgive and forget and settle scores. A wickedly funny geriatric road trip!

Macaroni

The touching story of a child getting to know his grandfather, an Italian immigrant living in Belgium. 11-year-old Romeo thinks of his grandfather as nothing but an “old pain-in-the-butt.” So when he finds out that he’s going to have to spend a few days with him at his crumbling old house, without even a TV to keep him entertained… well, it’s his idea of hell. But there are some surprises in store for Romeo during his visit. He changes his mind about a few things, perhaps thanks to his grandfather’s neighbor, Lucy, who tells him about her own “nonno,” and shows him how a spoil tip can be a thing of beauty. Or perhaps it’s thanks to Romeo’s dad, who speaks for the first time about his childhood relationship with his father. But it’s mostly thanks to Ottavio who, beneath his old, grouchy exterior, conceals the hard life he has led, full of suffering and sacrifice. It is a life the 11-year-old Romeo finds hard to comprehend, but which gives him a deeper understanding of someone from another century. It started off as just a short holiday to a grey Belgian town. But this holiday turns into an opportunity for three generations of men to lift the silence that surrounds them. A touching story about Italian immigration, coal mining, communication between the generations and the difficultly of opening up when you’ve spent your whole life in silence.

A Love for the Ages

Jean and Germaine are the most affable couple the little village of Colle sur Loup has ever seen. A duke married to a commoner, they have no children, no jobs, and are disastrous cooks! They like to indulge in life’s small pleasures; their books, their garden, and their after-lunch naps. They live for each other, and for their love. Their simple happiness intrigues, fascinates, infuriates and is the envy of all those around them. Daniel Pennac knew Jean and Germaine well. He spent his time at their house reading, watching, learning, and, of course, trying Germaine’s catastrophic efforts in the kitchen! He’s now taken it upon himself to tell the story of those happy days, and of a love that has always captivated him.

The Bugle Boy

Eighty-five-year-old Marcel lives alone with his memories of World War II — his short-lived days as a soldier before his capture and imprisonment by the Germans. He’s got one thing left to do before he dies: find the bugle he buried by the Maginot Line. When his granddaughter Andrea stops by with her burgeoning rural taxi business, he hops a ride to the site of his regiment’s defeat… only to find things have changed. This is Alexandre Clérisse’s fierce, tender, and timely rumination on the horrors of war and the lies we tell ourselves.

Agrippina and the Ancestor

Agrippina’s grandmother goes awol for a few days, only to be discovered in her own home, hiding away from the world while she recovers from a facelift. And all because she’s found out that her own mother has gone into a retirement home. The latter, having made herself a fortune in her savvy investments in stocks and shares, decides to buy herself a computer… but not just any old computer…! Meanwhile, Agrippina is, as usual, busy seeking out any opportunity to get easy money and easy boys. This is a side-splitting snapshot of the complex relationships between four generations of women.

While the King of Prussia…

Mrs. Hubeau looks after her 40-year-old handicapped son, Michel. Despite many happy moments, her daily life is far from easy, but she faces it with unparalleled courage and generosity. This is a beautiful homage to all the admirable people fighting in the shadows.

Memories of a Crappy Pooch

Maria Fuencisla, a long-term resident in a central Madrid neighborhood, is hit hard when her pet dies in a tragic accident. Her three best friends, Anastasia, Dori and Ricarda, come up with various schemes to try to comfort her, but it’s almost impossible, because the deceased dog was the focus of the old lady’s entire universe. These pages are full of tragicomic memories showing us how Maria Fuencisla and her small dog formed such a solid — if somewhat unorthodox — team. Together, they overcome the difficulties of being a senior citizen and a puppy in this hyper-modern age. The puppy was her dearest one, the son that she never had, and as she thinks back on their adventures together, she tries to move past this latest tragedy and move on with her life… but the fates have more in store for her.

Blossoms on Autumn

Ulysses, a middle-aged widower, is forced into early retirement from his moving job. At a loss for what to do next, the course of his life is changed by a chance encounter with a fellow lonely soul at, of all places, his son’s OB/GYN office. Mediterranea, who recently lost her mother, runs a cheese shop that she took over when her beloved Corsican father died years earlier. A romance blossoms between these two people who are supposedly in the “autumn” of their lives and they soon find themselves embarking on a most unexpected odyssey.

Jazz Club

Norman was a talented sax player in his heyday, until he lost his musical gift seemingly overnight and fled to France. Over thirty years later, with the millennium approaching, he finds himself confronting unresolved questions, a former lover, and diehard fans who have taken obsession to a new level…

Bearskin

“Bearskin” takes us on a trip to modern day Italy and then all the way to the United States of the late 1930s. Every day, Amadeo bikes up the hill from his small hometown on a beautiful island off the coast of Italy to read the daily horoscope to Don Palermo. Little does he know that this blind and powerless old man with a cane in his hand used to be a bear tamer, not to mention his later shenanigans as the right-hand man of a powerful mafia boss. A highly moving story of love, vengeance and cowardice.

Header images: While the King of Prussia Was Waging War Who Do You Think Was Darning His Socks? © Zidrou / Roger / Dargaud