“Winik's new book, Highs in the Low Fifties: How I Stumbled Through the Joys of Single Living, follows her progress as a newly divorced middle-aged mother looking for love in the age of Match.com. It doesn't end with wedding bells and rice, but the book wouldn't be half as funny--or knowing--if it had.” --Newsday
“Fun, funny, touching and illuminating.” --Kirkus
“. . . Winik, who has become a popular NPR commentator as well as a well-known author of self-reflective ‘creative nonfiction,’ infuses her writing with enough wit and poignancy to keep readers entertained. . . . it’s hard not to keep on reading, in part because Winik is so thoroughly amusing about her travails.” —The Austin American-Statesman
“The protagonist of The Wonder Bread Summer could grow up to be Marion Winik, if she's lucky. Winik, who teaches at the University of Baltimore, had her share of wild times in the 1970s and 1980s and, as this memoir attests, survived with her sense of humor, and sense of dignity, intact. Widowed, divorced, and a single mom, she embarks on a search for a mate with predictably disastrous results as chapter titles like ‘Match Dot Bomb’ and ‘The Five Guys You Meet In Hell’ indicate. She hits bottom when making out with a former student, but musters a laugh in the process. And that's the genius--Winik confesses shortcomings with startling candor, while conjuring tears of laughter with sharp-witted observations and self-deprecating wit. By book’s end, she reassesses her priorities and the tears keep coming, but you’re no longer laughing.” –Baltimore Magazine
“At first glance, Marion Winik’s Highs in the Low Fifties: How I Stumbled Through the Joys of Single Living may look like a baby boomer’s post-widowhood, post-divorce self-help manual. But it’s more of a 21st-century woman’s survival guide for dating in the digital age, where life is an open Facebook and hearts are ignited or broken over terse texts and grammatically tortured e-mail.
While Shakespeare famously wrote that love ‘bears it out to the edge of doom,’ Winik proves that the pursuit of love can be just as doom-bound. Highs in the Low Fifties begins after her second marriage fizzles out, and Winik moves to Roland Park to be closer to her job as a creative writing professor at the University of Baltimore.
Determined to find love again, she sets off to date men of all educational and ethnic backgrounds. Among her first forays to doom’s edge is the creation of a Match.com profile, through which Winik is rejected by men fearful they may become subjects of her writing. She, however, is just as discerning.
‘Even after ruling out the grammar abusers and other nonstarters, including the three people on Earth who don’t enjoy walking on the beach, I found myself skittish,’ writes Winik. ‘Just being over fifty seemed to have reduced the pool to a puddle, and the scary part of it was composed of twenty-one year-old perverts.’
Even so, Winik manages to find a few good men. She dates new romantic interests renamed as ‘The Underwear Model Biologist’ and ‘The Pheromone King’ (pseudonyms, of course). There are highs, such as the heady purchasing of pedicures and skinny jeans. But there are many more hilarious-in-hindsight lows: bawling while Leonard Cohen sings ‘I’m Your Man’ in concert, for instance.
Winik enters therapy to understand her own complicated romantic history, which she believes began at age 9 after she wrote a letter to the man known as the Boston Strangler. But longtime fans of her work know Winik best for a more complex relationship –– her marriage to her first husband Tony, an openly gay man, whom she met at 24. He died of AIDS when their sons were toddlers.
Since Tony entered her life, Winik has forged her career from moving true stories of love found and lost. Her early memoir First Comes Love tells the story of settling down with Tony, and her books that followed explore marriage, love, and childrearing with a frankness of sentiment detached from sentimentality readers have long come to expect from Winik.
Love is neither courtly nor kind in her experience. Nor are broken hearts easy to heal. In Highs in the Low Fifties, she writes of Tony without a twinge of self-pity, ‘I will spend the rest of my life missing him.’
Post-50, she has discovered that love may still release every feel-good hormone that exists, but to give one’s heart is always to risk its loss. Fortunately, Winik holds a black belt in making the best of bleak situations.
‘There are few things that happen in life you cannot laugh at. They are few and hopefully far between,’ she writes at the conclusion of her dating year, when she chooses to spend yet another night watching Shakespeare in Love with her young daughter, a gift of that second marriage.
That is, indeed, the great lesson of Shakespeare, and one Winik has affirmed consistently since the publication of her first collection of essays, Telling, in 1995. Highs in the Low Fifties is no exception.” –The Frederick News-Post