Author Q&A: Vancouver writer’s new book about ‘becoming older and realizing your social capital has shrunk’

Oldness; or, the Last-Ditch Efforts of Marcus O

By Brett Josef Grubisic

Now or Never Publishing | $19.95

It’s not always easy getting old. Cover art for the new novel, Oldness; or, the Last-Ditch Efforts of Marcus O. Handout/Brett Josef Grubisic [PNG Merlin Archive]

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Vancouver author Brett Josef Grubisic explores this point, in a delightfully disarming way, in his latest work Oldness; or, the Last-Ditch Efforts of Marcus O.

The novel follows a man named Marcus who grapples with life in his mid-60s, including dating, revenge and more — not always with the greatest grace.

We caught up with Grubisic to learn more about the book, aging and the one thing we can all see in Marcus that can likely be found within ourselves:

Q: How would you describe Oldness, or the Last-Ditch Efforts of Marcus O, in three words?

A: Gee, that’s tough. Brevity isn’t my first instinct. How about this: ‘Wisdom despite oneself.’

Q: And, without a word limit, what’s it all about?

A: It’s a variety pack of ideas. It’s set in the 2020s and about cultural ‘Siri-ization’ or ‘Alexa-ization’, where our vocal interfacing with computers has normalized, as has our anxiety about environmental collapse. It’s about becoming older and realizing your social capital has shrunk. And it’s about being well-educated but remarkably thin-skinned and taking petty revenge — over years — after you think you’ve overheard a much younger colleague refer to you as passé, a fossil. Plus, it’s about online dating at 65.

Q: What ultimately inspired you to write this book?

A: I finished my PhD at UBC in 2001, and have been wandering corridors there, and teaching classes, of course, since then. In a sense, Oldness is satiric, a kind of workplace comedy, so all I needed to do was select which aspects of my own I’d seize on for the novel. As with any place of work, I imagine, the self-importance, entitlement and resentment, and grudge-holding there can be breathtaking.

Q: Retirement, late-in-life romance, the book touches on a few … potentially touchy transitional themes. Why did you want to address them in this novel?

A: It’s trivial and probably showcases me as vain, but … one day at the gym, I noticed an age spot — just suddenly

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Entertainment


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