[lit-ideas] Re: a little more on books

  • From: "Paul Stone" <pastone@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2008 11:23:40 -0400

On Tue, Jul 29, 2008 at 1:28 AM, Julie Krueger <juliereneb@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> I saw him, shortly after he became an item on either Oprah or 60 Minutes or
> something like that, giving portions of his "last" lecture.  I was deeply
> impressed with him.  I haven't looked at the book, so I have no idea how it
> developed or was developed from his thoughts upon learning that he was
> dying.  However .... I would strongly suggest that you look him up on
> YouTube -- his much publicized lecture is there.  And for me, at least, it
> is powerful.

I watched it and I thought it was just a 'lecture' -- which of course,
it was -- and as it turns out, to my great surprise, the book IS very
faithful to the lecture. I was looking for MUCH more from this
powerful lecture. His little 'head fakes' at the last minute were
'cute' but the lecture itself was not 'powerful' in the least (to me).
The only kernel of wisdom in the whole thing was "experience is what
we get, when we don't get what we want". The only thing that was
powerful about this lecture is that he was up there giving it, with
humor, nonchalance and coolness that is almost completely absent from
most people who are aware that they are terminally ill. I'll grant him

I guess the thing that bothered me most (and this was in the book too,
although to a lesser extent) is that he specifically chose NOT to talk
about anything negative, nothing about his kids, barely his wife and
almost made it seem like it wasn't a bummer to leave a wife he
obviously loved with all his heart, three young kids (who,
incidentally, they didn't even TELL he was sick until just a few weeks
before his death) that he must have felt terrible about. And as I said
before, I could think of better things to do than write books
summarizing a lecture that I gave on my her last birthday that my Wife
and I will celebrate.

During his lecture he recounts a story about how he got tenure a year
early and when asked how, he says "Well, call me on Friday night at
10:30 in my office and I'll tell you". Maybe, just mAAAAAAAAAAAAAAybe
he could have done something different instead of striving. But I'm
being judgmental.

Now, I know you're saying "But Paul, he was just really this serene,
realistic guy who lived everyday the way he wanted to and did
everything he ever wanted to."

I call "bullshit" -- and the problem with this particular instance is
that he was obviously a very great man with an iron will who fought
and conquered lots, but in the end, the truth - he was going to and
did die was somehow NOT the topic of the situation. If that's not
denial, then I don't know what is. And his "popularity" --
deliberately so, in his case -- probably made it MORE difficult for
other families and people to die. He was exceptional. His end-story is

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