The book I’m re-reading now is Resurrection: The Miracle Season That Saved Notre Dame by Jim Dent. I read it first about five years ago and boisterously recommend it to fellow alums I meet during the reunions each summer. It is particularly poignant now with the death of legendary football coach Ara Parseghian.
Rock ’n’ roll biographies generally aren’t much better than the National Enquirer. You get some growing-up snippets. The rest is about gold records, squabbles with band members or record companies, and romances with women named Britt, Anita or Marianne. The reason you read is you have hope that you might find a worthy book. You win with Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run.
I re-read the Ernie Pyle columns in Ernie’s America for many reasons. First, he was an outstanding writer who saw the story inside a person other people might ignore. And, like a lot of us, Pyle was curious. He earned his credibility because he saw things with his own eyes. He reported what he knew, without embellishment.
If a person can write songs that stay in your head for 50 years, shouldn’t they be able to write a decent book? Frankly, most musicians’ autobiographies are disappointing. But I can wholeheartedly recommend one: Todd Snider’s I Never Met a Story I Didn’t Like.
If you’re not familiar with Willy Vlautin, you may hear more about him soon because the planned 2017 movie based on his 2010 novel, Lean on Pete, is expected to be a major hit. His four books — The Motel Life, The Free, Northline and Lean on Pete — all explore what I would call the permanent underclass. His characters are devoted to getting themselves out of immediate jams and away from pain.
I was introduced to Winesburg, Ohio as part of Notre Dame’s American Studies curriculum. Over the past 40 years, I’ve been to Anderson’s fictional Winesburg and back a couple dozen more times, and I’ve enjoyed the chance to roam those streets.
Where doors and arms opened to the abandoned, abused, disabled and addicted.