Rothman, Rodney 1974(?)–
Rothman, Rodney 1974(?)–
PERSONAL: Born c. 1974.
CAREER: Writer. Former head writer for Late Show with David Letterman Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. (CBS); writer and supervising producer for television show Undeclared.
Early Bird: A Memoir, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.
Writings have appeared in numerous publications, including New York Times, New York Times Magazine, Best American Nonrequired Reading, New Yorker, McSweeney's Quarterly, and Men's Journal.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Adapting Early Bird into a television series.
SIDELIGHTS: In his book Early Bird: A Memoir Rodney Rothman writes about his self-imposed exile after getting fired from his job writing for a television sitcom. Rothman's preferred method of retreating from life was unusual for a young man in his twenties: he decided to live in a retirement village. Originally, Rothman was going to write an essay about purchasing retirement condos in Florida as part a book of essays he was working on. For research purposes he decided to visit his grandparents in a retirement community and, according New York Times contributor Warren St. John, "had an epiphany." St. John went on to note, "His grandmother was making him a sandwich, he said, and the TV was on in the background. 'I felt safe,' he said."
In his book, Rothman describes his six-month sojourn in a condominium in the Century Village retirement community in Boca Raton, Florida, a place populated by a wide spectrum of interesting people, including Rothman's roommate, the widowed Margaret, who has an unfriendly parrot. Rothman also meets retired comedian Amy Ballinger, who is in her nineties and has an answering machine message that jokes about her looking for a millionaire who takes Viagra. Another neighbor, Vivian, is in her seventies and has had five husbands. As described by the author, Vivian is still sexy enough to garner his attention. "But Rothman doesn't forget that these are people who have had long—and in many cases difficult—lives," noted a contributor to the Book Slut Web site. "They've lived through their own particular tragedies; they've lost spouses and children and endured the hardships of the Second World War." Rothman is able to meet many of these retirees because he actively takes part in the social life of the community, such as playing shuffle board and going to local restaurants to have the early-bird specials. But the author also learns a surprising lesson from his experience. "I went looking for guidance and wisdom," Rothman told Gregory Kirschling for an article in Entertainment Weekly. "But in the end, most of the people I met seemed just as messed up as me. There's this guy in his sixties … and he'd say, 'I just haven't figured out my thing in life yet.'… If these people don't have their thing figured out, why should I?"
A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that Early Bird "provides just enough serious data on aging (for example, the positive effects of staying active and socializing) to make this breezy, humorous tour both entertaining and rewarding." Audrey Snowden, writing in the Library Journal, commented that the author "provides a glimpse of a lifestyle known popularly only through stereotypes." In Publishers Weekly, a contributor commented that the book has a "laconic and self-deprecating tone" and added that it is "a funny and engaging memoir of a quarter-life crisis."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Rothman, Rodney, Early Bird: A Memoir, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.
Entertainment Weekly, April 29, 2005, Gregory Kirschling, "'Early' Retirement," includes interview with author, p. 153.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2005, review of Early Bird, p. 407.
Library Journal, May 1, 2005, Audrey Snowden, review of Early Bird, p. 97.
New York Times, May 8, 2005, Warren St. John, "My Fake Retirement," interview with author.
People, May 30, 2005, review of Early Bird.
Publishers Weekly, March 21, 2005, review of Early Bird, p. 45.
Time, May 23, 2005, Lev Grossman, Belinda Luscombe, Carolina A. Miranda, and Michele Orecklin, review of Early Bird, p. 75.
Book Slut, http://www.bookslut.com/ (September 19, 2005), review of Early Bird.
MSNBC Web site, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/ (May 10, 2005), "Enjoying Early Retirement—at Twenty-eight."
Rodney Rothman Home Page, http://www.rodneyrothman.com (September 19, 2005).