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The lifelong practice of letting go

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

In his new book, an essayist shares his ups and downs, fears and joys while living through his ninth decade. And a sexagenarian describes how breaking boards saved her life.

We love coming-of-age stories, love stories, a good mid-life crisis. While it’s easy to find advice about getting the most out of your golden years. It's pretty hard to find writers exploring just what it's like to be in their 80s and 90s.

As the United State's population grows grayer, these experiences are an important window into the future. Essayist Carl Klaus is doing his part to shed some light on this phase of life.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe digs into "The Ninth Decade: An Octogenarian's Chronicle,” Klaus' latest book. He shares his long list of ailments and reflects on loss, but also shares the story of his 16-year love affair with another remarkable octogenarian, Jackie Blank.

Later, we hear from Lonnie Matthews, a 60-year-old preparing to test for Taekwondo's eighth dan black belt — the second-highest honor in the martial art.


  • Carl Klaus, author of “The Ninth Decade: An Octogenarian's Chronicle" and the founder of the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program
  • Lonnie Matthews, owner of Mireu Martial Arts in Coralville
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa