Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I am a Ruppie!

Last Friday, I attended a luncheon at the Ritz Carlton Hotel presented by The Clare, the future lifetime care community where I expect to live in two or three years or whenever the fifty-three story building is completed. It's always a pleasure to meet a few of my future neighbors.

The featured speaker was Kyle Ezell, urban planner and author of Retire Downtown: the Lifestyle Destination for Active Retirees and Empty Nesters (Andrews McMeel, 2006). The book is dedicated "to the millions of Americans who already know and love downtown living and for the millions more who are just discovering it."

Ezell is a relentless promoter of city living for all, having grown up in a small town with visions of big city skylines in his head. He invented the term "Ruppies," or Retired Urban People, for people like me who love living in the city, or are at least considering it. According to his book's introduction, Ruppies "know the secret for staying young has a lot to do with where people choose to live. Downtown is their fountain of youth."

With the future Clare residents group, Ezell was "preaching to the choir"; many of us already live downtown or close by, while the others are already sold on city living. However, his talk reinforced my love for city living and made me wish that more of my friends would join me. There's nothing wrong with rural, small town, or suburban living (I've tried them all), but for me, Chicago (one of Ezell's twenty best retirement downtowns) is the place to live, and I'm glad to be a Ruppie! Thanks for agreeing with me, Mr. Ezell!

To check out The Clare, go to
To see Kyle Ezell's book, go to

Copyright 2006 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Monday, September 11, 2006

From the Reviews of Reinventing Myself: Memoirs of a Retired Professor

Wonderful book for those approaching retirement: “The Mrs. Styne that comes alive through these essays is someone the reader will genuinely like. . . . If you are approaching retirement, or if you have already retired and now find that you could benefit from some ‘reinvention,’ this book is for you. Learn from Mrs. Styne’s experiences.”

Marcelline Burns for Reader Views

Spirit and talent in a retired widow: “Few people have the spirit and energy to reinvent themselves. Marlys Styne has not only the will but the talent to become a writer. As she, and we, reexamines her life, clearly gumption has been there all along. How many professional women don leather suits, fling a leg over a back seat, and hang on for miles and days as hubby drives his motorcycle all over the world? . . . In the reinventing of Professor Styne, the tense is important. She didn’t reinvent herself in a gush of self-discovery; she’s been doing it quietly all along. . . . Pay close attention. Her style is straightforward and unadorned, which may speed you past the not inconsiderable wit of a life well observed.”

Margot Wallace on

A fine read as a glimpse of a fascinating life: "Lots of us who think we have stories to tell but find it hard to get started will find comfort, advice and inspiration in this book. . . . In a slender volume, the author manages to cover a range of topics from the lighthearted—Sudoku and cats—to the deeply serious—the loss of a dearly loved husband, a fight against breast cancer. She has a lovely voice and a lively pace. . . . This book is an inspiration to those of us who hope to be writers. Styne will tell us that we already are.”

Patricia Pando for Story Circle Book Reviews

A gentle and overall joyful collection: “[The author’s] reminiscences on family, aging, teaching, travel, revelations, and inspirational moments encourage fellow human beings of all ages and senior citizens especially to experience more and partake in the catharsis of writing.”

Midwest Book Review: Small Press Bookwatch,
The Biography Shelf, September 2006

Want to buy my book? Go to (read a "sneak preview" chapter there), (listen to an audio introduction there), or (see the table of contents, my profile, and my "listmania" list). To read an interview, go to To listen to an audio interview, go to

Friday, September 08, 2006

Must Reading for Teachers, Active and Retired

A Book Review of Teacher Man, by Frank McCourt (Scribner, 2005)

By the time he published this memoir, Teacher Man, in 2005, Frank McCourt was over seventy, and his great triumph, Angela's Ashes, had been published nearly ten years earlier. He had also published 'Tis, about his early years in New York. However, for teachers and retired teachers, like me, this is perhaps an even more fascinating book to read.

After struggling through his introduction to high school teaching at some of New York's more difficult schools, McCourt finally complered his career at the prestigious Stuyvesant High School, where his unorthodox techniques were criticized, but ultimately appreciated more often than not. He had his creative writing students reading recipe books aloud, with musical accompaniment. He told them, "Every moment in your life, you're writing. Even in your dreams you're writing. When you walk the halls in this school you meet various people and you write furiously in your head." I like McCourt's "writing is for everyone" message and his advice to his students to write down their grandparents' stories before it is too late.

I was impressed with his growing understanding of his students' reactions and their lives and their problems. If Frank McCourt's insecurities seem a bit overemphasized at times, the book does arrive at a positive message that we can share: writing material is everywhere, for everyone, and we should all make use of it as we move from fear to freedom. This is possible for the young (like our students) and the old (like Mr. McCourt and me).

Copyright 2006 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Shaw Festival

I spent last weekend at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada. I attended the Stratford Festival many years ago, but this was my first trip to the perhaps lesseer-known Shaw Festival. Just as the Stratford Festival is not exclusively Shakespeare, the Shaw Festival is not exclusively George Bernard Shaw.

I am no special fan of Shaw's plays, but when a friend suggested this trip, I decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did. I found seeing six plays in five days a challenge (while many in our group added extras from the festival's total of ten offerings). I guess I'm not a true theater afficianado; I seem to need more solitary relaxing and reading time than some of my fellow travelers.

Anyway, the hotel accommodations at the small Shaw Club Hotel were fine, the food was good, and the walks to the three neaby theaters fun, at least until the rain came.

Strangely enough, the play I enjoyed most was the new The Invisible Man by Michael O'Brien, adopted from the H.G. Wells novel. I guess I like special effects. Of course the play's message is a serious one, but there were some laughs as well.

Of the two Shaw plays I saw, I preferred Arms and the Man to Too True to be Good. Both were long, but the latter seemed to drag on.

I think Ibsen's Rosmersholm and Authur Miller's The Crucible are both good plays, but I've enjoyed some of Ibsen's other plays more: A Doll's House, Ghosts, An Enemy of the People. The Crucible was long, and I had difficulty hearng a few of the actors. Finally, Noel Coward's Design for Living seemed very dated. I guess it was new and shocking in its time, but certainly not now. Besides, it was the last play I saw, and I was tired.

Please note that these are just my personal reactions to a weekend experience. I am no drama critic, and not even a very frequent theater-goer. I think the Shaw Festival is a wonderful idea, and it's great that so many people attend. I enjoyed meeting the other members of our group, and I enjoyed the natural beauty of the setting. Would I go again? Yes, but probably not next year.

Copyright 2006 by Marlys Marshall Styne