New Books Network

Stephen Jenkinson

Come of Age

The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble

North Atlantic Books 2018

New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in LiteratureNew Books Network March 25, 2020 Eric LeMay

Today I interviewed Stephen Jenkinson. He’s not only an author, an activist, a musician, and the founder of a school, but also an inspired...

Today I interviewed Stephen Jenkinson. He’s not only an author, an activist, a musician, and the founder of a school, but also an inspired etymologist, a spiritual trickster, and a mythopoetic storyteller cracking sticks and tossing them into a low fire as the spirits in the embers rise with his words. He’s a sorcerer of sorts who disenchants us from some of our most habitual and destructive beliefs about what it means to live and to die, to age and—in the title of his latest book—to Come of Age (North Atlantic Books, 2018). The subtitle of his book is The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble, and I spoke to Stephen at a moment when our most imminent trouble seems to be the global pandemic of the coronavirus, one that—on the date of our interview, March 18, 2020—appears as though it will only grow worse and more deadly here in North America and around the globe. Yet Stephen puts this acute trouble into a larger, longer, and ultimately more troubling perspective. He leads us, as he does in his book, into the act of what he calls wondering, “without recourse to certainty or comfort” but with, perhaps the possibility of emerging more clear-eyed and attentive to the world in front of us and what it asks of our living and our dying and our time together.


Eric LeMay is on the creative writing faculty at Ohio University. His work ranges from food writing to electronic literature. He is the author of three books, most recently In Praise of Nothing: Essay, Memoir, and Experiments (Emergency Press, 2014). He can be reached at eric@ericlemay.org.