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Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Casual Critic — Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie

Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie is a genuinely touching story about the relationship between a young man and his former professor who is in the final days of his life. The two end up meeting once a week to write their final thesis together as Morrie Schwartz, the sociology professor who was Albom’s favorite teacher from Brandeis University, sees his body succumb to ALS.

If this book had been fiction, my guess is it would have been viewed by many, including myself, as overly sentimental. A suggestion Morrie no doubt would have had plenty to say about. But the reality of it, and Albom’s skill as a reporter, keeps it grounded just enough to allow this professor’s last lesson to be fairly powerful.

Morrie’s lectures become background as the relationship between the two takes center stage. The professor bravely discusses how his imminent death allows him to turn away from what our culture prescribes as acceptable, and build his own subculture of thought and values. Though his lessons about modern life may be heavy-handed at times, I believed fully in his ability to view life with a clarity unimagined by those still seemingly far from death. For instance, he talks of giving in to the fact that he needs others to do virtually everything for him, and learns to enjoy it. The lesson seems to come to life, though, when Albom is able to overcome his feelings of awkwardness and take part in some of Morrie’s care. At one point, we find Albom literally sitting on the floor rubbing ointment on the professor’s feet as they chat to offer Morrie a modicum of relief.

It seems almost impossible to read a book that rails against materialism, shows a genuine love between two men as nothing but friendship, and not end up shrugging your shoulders or rolling your eyes. But, believe me, even the most cynical reader will do neither at the end of this book. Make a point to read it.

2 comments:

  1. I hope this book inspires more chat. I've hunted yahoo rooms and found few people willing to discuss the subject.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the post -- I would be happy to see this blog/site generate discussion on such topics.

    ReplyDelete

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