Lee Gutkind, “godfather” of the creative nonfiction movement, talks here with his son, Sam, who’s 19, on their memoir Truckin' With Sam: A Father and Son, the Mick and the Dyl, Rockin' and Rollin', on the Road (SUNY Press, 2010). The conversation is moderated by Stephen Knezovich, Associate Editor of Creative Nonfiction.
After years of thinking he’d never have kids, Lee Gutkind became a father at forty-seven and, following his divorce, soon found himself taking over more and more of the primary care responsibilities for his son, Sam. As one of a growing number of “old new dads” (recent studies have shown that one in ten children are born to fathers over forty), Gutkind realized that he faced challenges—both mental and physical—not faced by younger dads, not the least of which was how to bond with a son who was so much younger than himself.
For the past seven years, Gutkind’s approach to this challenge has been to spend one to two months of every summer “truckin’” with Sam, a term they define as a metaphor for spontaneity, a lack of restriction: “Truckin’ means that you can do what you want to do sometimes; you don’t always need to do what’s expected.”
What began as long, cross-country journeys in a pickup truck have in more recent years ranged to Europe, Australia, Tibet, and Africa. Interspersed with Sam’s own observations and journal entries, Truckin’ with Sam will appeal to old dads, new dads, and women who want to know more about how dads (and sons) think and behave.
In all, Gutkind has written 15 books, and edited 18 collections and volumes in the past 25 years. He is founder and editor of the popular journal Creative Nonfiction, the first and largest literary journal to publish nonfiction, exclusively, now celebrating its 15th year of publication. Former director of the writing program at the University of Pittsburgh, he is currently the Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes and professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University.
Click here to listen to Sam and Lee.