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Early Bird

Early Bird

A Memoir of Premature Retirement

  • reading group guide
Everyone says they would like to retire early, but Rodney Rothman actually did it -- forty years early. Burnt out, he decides at the age of twenty-eight to get an early start on his golden years. He travels to Boca Raton, Florida, where he moves in with an elderly piano teacher at Century Village, a retirement community that is home to thousands of senior citizens.

Early Bird is an irreverent, hilarious, and ultimately warmhearted account of Rodney's journey deep into the heart of retirement. Rodney struggles for acceptance from the senior citizens he shares a swimming pool with and battles with cranky octogenarians who want him off their turf. Before long he observes, "I don't think Tuesdays with Morrie would have been quite so uplifting if that guy had to spend more than one day a week with Morrie."

In the spirit of retirement, Rodney fashions a busy schedule of suntanning, shuffleboard, and gambling cruises. As the months pass, his neighbors seem to forget that he is fifty years younger than they are. He finds himself the potential romantic interest of an aging femme fatale. He joins a senior softball club and is disturbed to learn that he is the worst player on the team.

Early Bird is a funny, insightful, and moving look at what happens to us when we retire, viewed from a remarkably premature perspective. Any reader who plans on becoming an old person will enjoy joining Rodney on his strange journey, as he reconsiders his notions of romance, family, friendship, and ultimately, whether he's ever going back to work.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743270588 | 
  • May 2006
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Reading Group Guide

Early Bird by Rodney Rothman: Reading Group Guide
1. Rodney's first and earliest impressions of South Florida are some of his happiest childhood memories. "I remember when I used to come down and visit them here, they'd always go out of their way to make me feel comfortable and relaxed, and to introduce me to everyone." Did Rodney anticipate having a similar experience this time around? Why do you think Rodney really wanted to go down to Florida? Is it for the reasons he claims?.
2. In a conversation with his friend Jill, Rodney explains that he will begin telling people at parties that he is writing a book that will explain the reason for his decision for making such a lifestyle change. How important are and how attached are we as a society to, job titles? How obsessed are we with working in general?
3. At the start of his new life in South Florida, Rodney often finds himself trying to fit in amongst the retiree social circles. First with the Pool Group and later with the senior softball team. How does Rodney eventually make it into these groups and what are his general observations about joining retiree social networks?
4. When Rodney moves in with his new roommate, Margaret, whom he discovers through Roommate Finders, he starts off feeling on edge much of the time due to her jittery and hermit-like manner. Many of the community members also felt her to be strangely antisocial. Why do you think Rodney began defending Margaret to the Pool Group? see more

About the Author

Rodney Rothman
Photo Credit:

Rodney Rothman

Rodney Rothman is now living in Los Angeles. He is a former head writer for the Late Show with David Letterman, and was a writer and supervising producer for the television show Undeclared. His writing has appeared in the The New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, the Best American Nonrequired Reading, The New Yorker, McSweeney's Quarterly, and Men's Journal.

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