It is, quite frankly, sad to watch Abigail Thomas slow down, but she does us a service by telling us honestly what it is like to grow old. She is not a fan of the word "old," by the way, nor "senior" — she prefers "elder." This is the kind of rumination you'll find in her new memoir, "Still Life at Eighty." Written, as were her previous memoirs ("A Three Dog Life," "What Comes Next and How to Like It"), in abbreviated chapters, this is really more of a meandering journal than a narrative. It allows glimpses into loneliness, confusion, infirmity and angst — but also love, celebration and an abiding curiosity about language, nature and people. (She is constantly Googling things that interest her.)

Her life is smaller than it once was — she forgets words, she spends time watching bugs or trapping and releasing spiders. She paints a lot of portraits of fried eggs, because she loves bright yellow. Two of her beloved dogs die.

Thomas writes frequently of her nighttime fears and dread, of lying in bed and hearing a door close somewhere in the house even though she is the only one who lives there. "I offer this simple solution to anyone suffering from nameless fear," she says. "Write yourself into a story where you stand half a chance of surviving, and do, until at least morning."

But she also shares bodacious memories of climbing into cars with strangers who are holding martini glasses, of romantic liaisons, of wearing short skirts and walking all over Manhattan and wondering what it would be like to be old.

Now she knows. And now, thanks to her, we do, too.

Laurie Hertzel is senior editor for books at the Star Tribune.

Still Life at Eighty
By: Abigail Thomas.
Publisher: Golden Notebook Press, 191 pages, $20.