How to Live
A Search for Wisdom from Old People (While They Are Still on This Earth)
By Henry Alford
(Twelve, Hardcover, 9780446196031, 272pp.)
Publication Date: January 2009
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In this witty guide for seekers of all ages, author Henry Alford seeks instant enlightenment through conversations with those who have lived long and lived well.
Armed with recent medical evidence that supports the cliche that older people are, indeed, wiser, Alford sets off to interview people over 70--some famous (Phyllis Diller, Harold Bloom, Edward Albee), some accomplished (the world's most-quoted author, a woman who walked across the country at age 89 in support of campaign finance reform), some unusual (a pastor who thinks napping is a form of prayer, a retired aerospace engineer who eats food out of the garbage.) Early on in the process, Alford interviews his 79 year-old mother and step-father, and inadvertently changes the course of their 36 year-long union.
Part family memoir, part Studs Terkel, How To Live considers some unusual sources--deathbed confessions, late-in-life journals--to deliver a highly optimistic look at our dying days. By showing that life after 70 is the fulfillment of, not the end to, life's questions and trials, How to Live delivers that most unexpected punch: it makes you actually *want* to get older.
Henry Alford is the author of two acclaimed works of investigative humor--Big Kiss: One Actor's Desperate Attempt to Claw His Way to the Top and Municipal Bondage: One Man's Anxiety-Producing Adventures in the Big City. He has been a regular contributor to the New York Times and Vanity Fair, and a staff writer at Spy. He has also written for The New Yorker, GQ, New York, Details, Harper's Bazaar, Travel & Leisure, the Villiage Voice, and Paris Review.