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Leisureville: Adventures in a World Without Children Paperback – July 8, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Blechman describes this brave new world with determined good humor and considerable bemusement. He clearly disapproves of the whole thing, but accepts that for most residents living in these conditions is the fulfillment of a dream." -Katherine A. Powers, The Boston Globe --The Boston Globe
Top Customer Reviews
After reading Leisureville, and personally knowing some of the people he interviewed, I find my opinion of his work to be somewhat mixed. There is much about his book that is well done. And there is much that is poorly done from the standpoint of even handed social science.
Blechman never claims to be a sociologist or psychologist or anything other than an author with a firmly entrenched point of view, viz.: age segregated communities are bad. He not only doesn't like The Villages (pop. c75,000)([...] he doesn't like Sun City either. He also doesn't like the lifestyle in retirement communities. He lets you know this in the first short chapter where he bemoans the loss of his neighbors who are moving to The Villages. By page 9, he asks "How could two bright individuals be drawn to something as seemingly ridiculous as The Villages?"
As you read through the book he tries to make the point that homogeneous communities without a diversity of age, class, lifestyle, interest, etc. are intrinsically bad. His last chapter is a summary of his position based on his non-scientific observations of The Villages, Sun City, and Youngville. Biased as his outlook is, there is still a lot in the middle that makes his book worth reading.
There are research data which support some of his positions. Homogeneous communities do not support tolerance and understanding.Read more ›
Pro's and con's but .. it is clear that Blechman feels the cons predominate: no sidewalks, no diversity, no kids - an artificial Truman Show-like living arrangement that rings hollow. He decries the fact that these oldsters have tuned out from society, pursuing their own visions of retirement escapism from the problems of the world.
Though I understand where he is coming from, the beauty of a free society is that people can opt to choose this lifestyle or not. Choice is paramount. No one frog-marches oldsters to such communities or forces then to remain there if they find it suffocating. Most don't. Most of the characters in Leisureville seem to have few regrets. Life is full of tradeoffs.
Society says to old people, "It's all about youth - you don't matter!" Society worships youth and marginalizes older folks. Hedonistic escapism is hardly the sole province of the aged. Oh, I get it - it's OK for youth and the Lexus-obsessed middle aged. It's just not OK for grandma and gramps. Can we begrudge them if they heed society's marginalization by seeking their own version of community - even if from the vantage point of our youth or comfortable middle age, it seems like a vision of hell?
Maybe our - and Blechman's -- perspective will change once we are old enough to walk a mile in their shoes.
positive and negative reviews. On the one hand, it's an eye-opening and
fascinating introduction to retirement communities. Readers who don't know
how they began or just how vast and ambitious they can be will get a sense of
it here. For that alone, it's worth reading.
On the other hand, the author's disapproving view of these communities
undercuts his reporting and makes some of it unreliable. He states
forthrightly in Chapter One that he doesn't understand how seemingly bright
people could be drawn to something as undeniably kitschy as The Villages
(the community he focuses on). He never tries very hard to achieve
enlightenment on this key point.
At times, his tone is snarky. In numerous instances, when he asks a
question of inhabitants of The Villages, their fatuous response begins with
the word "Gosh." Is it really likely that so many different people spoke
that way? Or is that just how he heard them all? And are the activities at
The Villages mainly just line-dancing and bingo? Among the 75,000 residents
and hundreds of activity groups, he couldn't find one dealing with, say,
books or art?
He did manage to devote a section to the community's lone transsexual,
probably just to highlight the oddness of it amidst the kitsch. Fun reading
but not exactly balanced reporting.
More substantively, he seems to regard the senior citizens at these
childless, school-free, low-tax retirement communities as violators of a
social compact.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting book for those who live in The Villages or are thinking of moving to The Villages or any other age-restricted community.Published 2 months ago by Marilyn DeLuna
I gave this book two stars instead of one (or if possible, zero) only because some of the history was very interesting. Read morePublished 2 months ago by H. S. Marsh
Fascinating insite to the "ME" generation and spilling into the Boomers. Some parents led the wave by living in a community without children. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Very funny and an interesting insight into what it is like to grow older in an age segregated community. Read morePublished 6 months ago by phoebesmom
Overinflated ego and views about how seniors should live and in what neighborhoods creates a slanted view. Information on STD statistics is not correct. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Tom McBryan