Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom: Impressions

You've read this book, right? Yeah, anyone who reads at all seems to have. It's one of those insanely popular life hack kind of books, with selling points as all manner of gurus have. And with so many people existentially lost, any manner of direction-giving does good business. Everyone likes these; which is why I don't; which is why I had desisted from it so long. But I finally did read it, perhaps because it was the thinnest book on my shelf, and I was feeling lazy, or perhaps because I am getting old for pointless derision. I gave curiosity a chance.*

So this super-acclaimed book, which has been turned into a movie, a play and is studied as a coursebook in several universities, what does it have? Honestly, nothing you and I do not know. It has pretty much the standard how to be a good guy and live a real life and find true happiness in love, giving, etc... You know, lessons we learnt in Moral Science in school, lessons that line whole sections of book stores labelled Self-Help (I can never stop scoffing at that term). So what is in it again, I ask?

I'll tell you what. The little philosophies on life and love are the just the frosting. The cake people buy this book for, is the story of a death. Death, that is not theirs. Death in its slow, glorious, torturous form. It's a little black circus people watch here - that of the death of a frail old man, on whose being the claws of death are slowly talking grip. The page turner is not the next 'nice' Tuesday lesson by Morrie, but the increasing degree of his helplessness. Albom is a good writer. He captures what he sees well - a man on his deathbed. Morrie's little pep talk, however, remains just that (OR FORGET EVERYTHING I JUST SAID BECAUSE I AM PROBABLY ONE HUGE CYNIC AND HATE THESE PREACHY BOOKS).

But the book has some nice lines people can write in their diaries or tweet about (and then conveniently forget). There's this thing about not buying into a popular culture, because it is all a piece of marketing bullshit (which I really and truly believe). Then there's this thing about family being the only real anchor, because friends are kind of floaty. Also, that jazz about material things not giving anyone real happiness, and forgiving oneself being important is nice. But hey, tell me something new, okay? Don't try to sell me a book for a few sympathy votes.

*I is disappointed, because the cat got killed.

1 comment:

Tibbunny said...

Actually, no. As one who reads, I've been studiously avoiding this, because I hate writing that strives self-righteously to be profound.

Am glad that I had my suspicions confirmed, and that I didn't have to read it to find that out. For that, I salute you!