Better Read Than Never: Albom’s TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE

Reviewed, in the usual not-even-trying-to-be-timely way:

Tuesdays With Morrie: An Old Man, A Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom

Morrie Schwartz was good medicine, and he still is.

I was late hearing the news about the killing spree at the University of California at Santa Barbara, blessed in part by our cultural distance in China, to some degree by immersion in another project, and otherwise by finishing my re-read, on a recent Tuesday, of Mitch Albom’s 1997 publishing phenomenon. There aren’t many better prophylactics against the infections of toxic dismay, rampant disillusion and untargeted anger than this slender, absorbing memoir.

Adjusting the adjustor, guiding the guide.

Adjusting the adjustor, guiding the guide. Morrie’s study, and an especially famous hibiscus plant.

I’d been pretty quick, for a chronically tardy retro-reader, in getting to Tuesdays With Morrie the first time around. I was a high school teacher and basketball coach back then, and even best-sellerdom couldn’t discourage me from picking up a book with a subtitle like that.

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Morrie Schwartz (on rushing for meaning)

“Everyone is in such a hurry. People haven’t found meaning in their lives, so they’re running all the time looking for it. They think the next car, the next house, the next job. Then they find those things are empty, too, and they keep running.”

Morrie Schwartz (1916-1995) was a “teacher to the last”. A professor of sociology at Brandeis University, he became a household name through the dignified, unashamed and generous manner of his dying from ALS (“Lou Gehrig‘s Disease”). The news magazine show “Nightline” featured him several times during his excruciating but somehow uplifting decline. Of course, Mitch Albom‘s huge-selling 1997 memoir, Tuesdays With Morrie, made Schwartz well-known and loved around the world.

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The Luckiest Man on Earth

If you’re North American you likely know the story, or at least parts of it, even if you’re not a sports fan. Lou Gehrig was not, once upon a time, the name of a disease. He was the Iron Horse, one of the most lethal of the famed “Murderer’s Row” batting lineups of the New York Yankees of the 1920s and

Gehrig takes batting practice. What a swing he must have had!

‘30s. One day, an early part of the Gehrig story goes, the Yanks’ first baseman Wally Pipp needed a day off, and a young Gehrig filled in admirably. 2130 games (and 14 seasons) later, he asked to be taken out of the lineup in May of a strangely ineffective ’39 season, and within weeks had had confirmed a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), still known to many as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”. On July 4, 1939, Yankees fans were given their chance to say farewell. By 1941 – on the same date that he replaced Pipp on his way to becoming baseball’s greatest-ever first baseman – he was dead, days before his 38th birthday.

Gehrig was a two-time MVP, six times a World Series champion, a Triple Crown performer, and still

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