A retired 74-year-old woman shares vignettes from her lifetime of work and activities in this slim, homespun memoir, What More is There to Say?: Stories of a Very Good Life.
Elaine Colton begins her recollections in 1958 at age 17 in Newport, Rhode Island, quickly moving from discussion of her ruptured appendix to her job making sandwiches, where “lo and behold, my greatest masterpiece was created: the LIVERWURST and GRILLED CHEESE with relish sandwich.” In a subsequent move to Boston, she works for Bonwit Teller before becoming an American Airlines stewardess.
Eventually, her talent in sales lands her a series of jobs selling everything from newspaper real estate ads to energy-saving reflectors for light fixtures in Washington D.C. As the years pass, she gets involved in Werner Erhard experiential training (est) classes; mentors young, incarcerated women transitioning out of jail; and even volunteers at the National Zoo.
In her 60s, Colton pens a book about her lifelong relationship with childhood friends, and after a move to North Carolina in later years, she builds new friendships and takes stabs at learning the ukulele (“I was slow and somewhat dreadful”), ballroom dancing, and acrylic painting.
As she shares life moments that impacted her in satisfying and enjoyable ways, Colton’s clear writing is chatty and pleasant in tone (“Here’s the scoop on that,” she writes as she prepares to explain her plans to become a stewardess). She says little about her early life and completely skips over details of her marriage, only abruptly mentioning that she was divorced and had two sons. This lends an incomplete feel to the narrative.
Overall, the story lacks the vivid details and powerful narrative arc that might appeal to a broad swath of readers. Nonetheless, these highly personal experiences obviously hold deep meaning for Colton and will likely be well-received among those with whom she already has close ties.
Also available as an ebook.