Anna Quindlen talks about her new memoir 'Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake'
AQ: The answer, of course, being "No!" [Laughs] But that was just before I came up with Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, and we were set.
BNR: Hadn't there been talk about using another line from the book, I'm Too Old to Die Young Now?
AQ: Actually, when I first wrote the proposal for the book, I called it Too Old to Die Young Now, which is what I said to your sister when she was worried about something happening to me. And I really do think that in some ways it's the quote that set me working on this. A tangible, spoken sense that I've crossed a line on the continuum of life. But, while I still think that's a pretty good title, there was a sense that having the word "die" in the title didn't necessarily work.
BNR: But even earlier, when you were first imagining the book, I remember you talking about it as Mistakes Were Made: A Memoir of Motherhood. When did…or how did you decide to move beyond motherhood to a more multi-faceted view of your life?
AQ: It was a combination of speaking that sentence to Maria -- I'm too old to die young now -- and then once I'd done the research that showed that in the year I was born, 1952, average life expectancy was 68. Every time I say that, even to people who pride themselves on being well informed, there's an audible gasp. Are you sure about that? Did you double-check that? The answer is, I am absolutely sure. I triple-checked. But the idea that that was how long you got to live then, and that you get to live twelve years on average longer now, made me think about the differences in the lives of people my age from those of the generations that came before. And that seemed to me to be broader and deeper than motherhood, although clearly that's a pivotal part of this book. It seemed to me to cry out for an explanation and an exploration of what we're doing with this time and how our lives are defined by the fact that we're going to live longer than any generation previously in history.