It hurts when you laugh about aging in America, and it's no picnic careening across the land to promote a book on the subject either.
Annabelle Gurwitch, actress, comic, political activist, TV host, radio commentator, essayist and best-selling author, wouldn't know what to do without the craziness and doesn't care to find out.
"Meeting people, meeting readers, interacting with people who love books -- there's nothing like it, having people all over the country reading your work," she says to me during a phone interview from her home in Los Angeles. "It makes running through the airport with one shoe on and a pillow under my arm worth it."
Fans of Gurwitch's piquant humor, wry storytelling and Bombeckian ruminations on life in our times can catch her in Indianapolis Wednesday, when she'll read from and discuss her third and latest book, I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50 (Blue Rider Press, 2014).
Resplendent with its bright pink bloomers on the cover, I See is a collection of essays on a venerable topic made new by Gurwitch's deft treatment -- by turns droll, hilarious, mischievous, poignant, sobering. The writer, who turned 53 last Tuesday, shares her generation's passages of heading downhill, from finding her Prince Charming in the geek who can restore her hard drive to taking responsibility for enfeebled parents.
The humor is a given, she says, "but I also want to really explain what it means to be this age in this culture. With the Apple Genius, I'm saying one of the greatest attributes I find sexy is that the guy is able to fix my computer. Then there's this growing sense of invisibility you can have in the world. Just recently a piece of mine was being shot for a Web series, and they asked me to get off the stage. What? I was too old to be on camera! It's funny but it's sad. Humor, yes, but very serious."
But seriously. As a bona fide writer (Harper's Bazaar, the Los Angeles Times and thenation.com are among her essay credits), Gurwitch stands in elite company among actors in popular media. New Yorker contributor Woody Allen comes to mind; and ironically enough, his dismissal of Gurwitch from an off-Broadway play he was directing in 2003 inspired her first book, Fired!, a compilation of rejection tales by various now-successful actors. Her second book, You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up, a kind of fractured marriage guide cowritten by her husband, Emmy-winning writer Jeff Kahn, is making its third national tour as a play.
"I started acting, not for the purpose of becoming a movie star or any other kind of star," Gurwitch says. "I did it because I loved the language, the language of the theater. My writing and everything I do is an extension of that love of language."
Linguistically and professionally speaking, middle age has made Gurwitch anything but invisible or idle. She's adapting I See for an FX series, she premiered a solo show off-Broadway last weekend and she's already plotting a fourth book. "I'm keeping it silly on all fronts," she concludes.