How to Live
Twelve, 2009 (2009)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Alex Telander
enry Alford has written for Vanity Fair, The New York Times, and The New Yorker, and is the author of
. In his latest book,
How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People (While They Are Still on This Earth)
, he does just that, providing and viewpoints from those who will not remain for much longer on this earth - to give those who still have a while to go a greater respect and appreciation for life and what one can accomplish with it.
n the first chapter, Alford lays the ground rules, explaining that while there are certainly intelligent young people, one is most likely to find experience and wisdom from those over seventy who have simply lived much longer. Beginning with his stepfather and mother, Alford moves on from interview to interview, surprised at the response he gets from perfect strangers. Though he interviews famous people like Edward Albee, Harold Bloom, and Phyllis Diller, it is the people we know nothing about who tell the most moving stories ... like the retired schoolteacher who survived Hurricane Katrina, lost her home, all her possessions, and even her husband, but still lives each day to its fullest. While
How to Live
is not all fun and games - including some sad and sobering life stories - Alford balances it out with funny stories like his descriptive tour through Sylvia Miles' stuffed and cluttered apartment.
hether you start the book with expectations and preconceptions, or pick it up for curiosity's sake, you will ultimately be surprised and delighted with what people who have spent at least seventy years on this planet have seen and what they have to say about it and about life.
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