Neil Genzlinger is a former art and culture critic-turned obituary writer. He joins us on the podcast from his office at The New York Times. We discuss the elements that make an obituary stand out, who he’d want to write his tribute when the time comes, and how he won three (3!) Moth Open-Slam Storytelling competitions.
Telling the Stories of People's Lives
Neil talks about about why he transferred to the obituary desk at The New York Times. The answer may surprise you! He opens up about how writing stories recapping other people’s lives has changed his own perspective on mortality, how he feels about “irreverent” personal tributes, and what the similarities between a great obit and a successful Moth story are (hint: there are quite a few!). Neil encourages us all to do a mind-blowing thought exercise in self-reflection right now...using just the facts.
Neil also introduces us to David Mallett, a folk singer-songwriter he discovered while living in Maine. Mallett's "The Garden Song" is on Neil's own farewelling playlist, and you can listen to a bit of it in the episode, or hear the whole song here.
If you want to read some of Neil's work (and some fascinating life stories), check out this page.
If you'd like to make some notes on what you want for your farewelling, take a look at our free Farewelling Checklist. It's pretty neat!