Introduction

Carl H. Klaus, Professor Emeritus at the University of Iowa and founder of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program, is primarily an author of journals that chronicle significant personal experience in the form of essays rather than notes and jottings. Information about each of his books can be found on the right-hand side of this page, and excerpts from each of them can be found by clicking on the available links.

The Ninth Decade: An Octogenarian’s Chronicle

Klaus’s new work is the first detailed account of octogenarian life— the fastest growing demographic in the industrialized world. Covering seven and a half years in six-month installments, The Ninth Decade provides a detailed record not only of his octogenarian experience and survival routines, but also of his loving companion Jackie, strikingly different from him in her physical well-being, practical outlook, sociable temperament, and vigorous workouts. Cameos of their eighty-year-old friends and relatives near and far, as well as bios of notable eighty-year-olds produce a wide-ranging portrayal of advanced aging for persons in their sixties, seventies, and eighties, as well as specialists devoted to care of the aged and to the study of aging. [An excerpt from The Ninth Decade is available via links on this page and the book excerpts page here. ]

Advance Praise

“Carl Klaus, to whom all American essayists should be indebted for his ruminations on the form, has blessed us with a scouting report of what lies ahead for those lucky enough to make it to our eighties—in prose that is intimate, warm, impeccably honest, flavorful and attentive to the minute surprises of daily life.”—Phillip Lopate, editor, The Glorious American Essay”

“An intimate yet hands-on lesson on how to face the inevitable infirmities and losses of our eighties with grace, resilience, and composure. The Ninth Decade is a major contribution to the growing literature of aging.”—Robert Atwan, editor, The Best American Essays

“An eminent scholar of the essay, Carl Klaus is also a fine practitioner of this versatile art form, as he demonstrates once more in these reflections on old age. Facing bodily ailments, quirks of memory, and funerals of friends, he writes with verve and wisdom about life’s final phase.”—Scott Russell Sanders, author, The Way of Imagination

“In The Ninth Decade, Carl Klaus gives the reader an insightful look into the challenges of life in one’s eighties. With courage, wisdom, and a huge dose of realism, Klaus shows us what it means to be an active, involved, elder. A comforting read from a master of creative nonfiction.”—Mary Swander, author, The Maverick M.D.