S5-EP15: Abigail Thomas on Life at 81: Liquid Moments, Memory, French Toast and Writing
Debbie talks with bestselling author Abigail Thomas about her extraordinary new memoir “Still Life at Eighty” and why she loves being old.
Debbie speaks with bestselling author Abigail Thomas whom Stephen King calls “the Emily Dickinson of memoirists.”
Her new memoir, titled “Still Life at Eighty,” is a series of loosely connected essays on the topic of aging. But it’s so much more than that. Abby, as she insisted that Debbie call her, is funny and frank and profane as she talks about the good and the bad of aging. Yes, there are aches and pains. No, she doesn’t mind being old. In fact, she loves it. She no longer cares what people think of her and – just for the record – she is not afraid of death. As she puts it: “Please God, let there be no afterlife.”
In this conversation she and Debbie talk about her writing (Debbie finds it “transcendent”), her relationship to time and memories, her longterm friendship with literary agent Chuck Verrill (who died in early 2022), and why she loves working with clay.
Abby is the daughter of renowned science writer Lewis Thomas, the mother of four children and a grandmother of 12. She is the bestselling author of several previous memoirs, including “A Three Dog Life” and “What Comes Next and How to Like It.” She lives in Woodstock, NY with her dogs, where she writes and teaches writing.
Mentioned in this episode or useful:
- Her website: Abigail Thomas
- Still Life at Eighty: The Next Interesting Thing by Abigail Thomas (Golden Notebook Press (February 28, 2023)
- What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir by Abigail Thomas (Scribner; 2015)
- A Three Dog Life: A Memoir by Abigail Thomas (Mariner Books; 2006)
- The Next Interesting Thing from Abigail Thomas (Next Avenue, March 9, 2023)
- Hope? Ha Ha Ha Ha… – by Abigail Thomas (Oldster Magazine, May 3, 2023)
- Memoir is Exploration, So Keep Yourself Open: An Interview with Abigail Thomas (Brevity Blog, April 20, 2023)
- Chuck Verrill, Editor and Agent, RIP (Chuck Verrill (her literary agent) died in 2022)
“STILL LIFE AT EIGHTY is a little jewel box of a book, full of epiphanies that are comforting and merciless in the gentlest possible way. Both a series of meditations and a user’s manual about growing old, I was amazed by its clarity… Even the title, with its deliberate ambiguity, is a very cool thing.” — Stephen King
PHOTO CREDIT: Jennifer Waddell
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