35 minutes | Nov 12th 2020

Lee Gutkind: Living life eight thousand days at a time

Lee Gutkind has spent much of his life denying his age. The Pittsburgh-based writer and teacher, renowned for his skills as an immersion journalist, has long been fascinated by the aging process and the insecurities that come with growing old. Now, aged seventy-seven, he has overcome his anxieties and age-related tensions. It followed a dark period of time, marked by the loss of loved ones and loneliness, when Lee decided to use his journalistic skills to perform a deep dive on himself. The result is a candid memoir, My Last Eight Thousand Days: An American Male in His Seventies, which documents the realities of aging and the transformation in fortunes that Lee enjoys today. In this episode, he explains how, despite a hugely successful career and a naturally outgoing personality, he reached a low point in his life; how he developed a new appreciation of casual friendships and the joy of connecting with other people. Described by Vanity Fair as the Godfather behind creative nonfiction, Lee also reflects on the frustrations that come with being pigeonholed as an old, soon-to-be-retired, man. 

Published: November 12, 2020 | Recorded: November 10, 2020

Visit the LLAMA podcast website for complete show notes, including a transcript of the conversation.

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In this interview we cover:

  • The life and times of an immersion journalist, who immerses himself into his own story
  • Dispelling the popular image of an older person
  • Defending the vitality of people still working in their seventies 
  • The “demeaning” assumption that retirement beckons at 65
  • Lee’s denial of his age and mid-life loneliness 
  • Turning the journalistic microscope inward with positive results
  • The realization that casual friends can be a lifeline
  • The power of human interaction after a lifetime of self-enforced solitude, as a writer
  • The impact of Covid on friendships
  • The physical prowess of a lifelong athlete in his 70s
  • The excitement of hot yoga at 70 
  • Moving forward while remaining younger in mind and body


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