Fourth Quarter: Reflections of a Cranky Old Man is historian-public lecturer Carlos Cortés’ poetic rumination on life as viewed from the perspective of a post-75-year-old who is traversing the fourth quarter of his life. Sometimes ironic, sometimes nostalgic, while continuously introspective, Fourth Quarter teases strands both from Cortes’ personal experiences and from his responses to the always-surprising, occasionally-baffling world he has observed throughout more than eight decades. “Fourth Quarter” is organized into four major sections. “Looking Back” contemplates revealing moments in Cortés life, from his days growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, through his experience in the U.S. Army to becoming a university professor. “Looking Out” focuses on the often-absurd world around us, including Cortés’ contemporary encounters with baffling bureaucratic institutions, recalcitrant telephone menus, and unintentionally-instructive people with whom he has interacted throughout the human comedy of life. “Looking In” examines the increasing personal challenges brought about by age, whether dealing with omnipresent tinnitus, preparing for a colonoscopy, or filling out medical directives. “Looking Ahead” expresses Cortés’ hopes, concerns, and expectations of the future, as he contemplates such themes as retirement, mentoring, class reunions, and society’s changing conceptions of “old.” In addition to those four major sections, the collection contains an interlude entitled “Intergenerational Trilogy.” In that section, Cortés muses about cross-generational relationships, whether this involves driving, cell phone-distracted pedestrians, family interactions, or restaurant conversations. The book concludes with “Overtime.” In closing the collection, Cortés’ ruminates on the possibility that he might actually complete his Fourth Quarter, which means contemplating life after 100.
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