Book Review Tuesdays With Morrie

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November 23, 1997 Continuing Ed The writer recounts a series of visits to a beloved, terminally ill college professor.

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By ALAIN DE BOTTON
TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE An Old Man, a Young Man, and also Life's Greatest Leschild. By Mitch Albom. 192 pp. New York: Doubleday. $19.95.

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itch Albom offered to think he had it all: love, fame and also money. He was a effective sporting activities journalist for The Detroit Free Press, he had a day-to-day radio show in Detroit, a committed wife, a huge residence and friends. But, in a by-currently classic combination, outer success masked inner emptiness.

Not that Albom noticed, until the day as soon as, at 37, he switched on the television and observed his old college sociology professor, Morris Schwartz, being interviewed about fatality by Ted Koppel on ''Nightline.'' In his student days at Brandeis University, Albom had thought about Schwartz a friend and also mentor. It's basic to check out why. Schwartz belonged to the countersociety -- he told Albom not to worry about making money, he urged him to check out Eaffluent Fromm and Martin Buber and to follow his inclination to be a musician, also though Albom senior wanted his kid to go right into the regulation. Yet, given that graduating, Albom had lost touch through Schwartz and the values he stood for. In Albom's words, ''I traded numerous dreams for a bigger payexamine, and also I never also realized I was doing it.'' Though Albom had actually vowed never before to job-related for money and also wanted to join the Peace Corps, he had actually finished up -- in his account -- materialistic and spiritually shallow, leading the round-the-clock life of a successful journalist.

Seeing Schwartz on tv was to change all that. Having learned from ''Nightline'' that Schwartz was slowly dying of A.L.S., or Lou Gehrig's disease, Albom realized he urgently had to contact him, so as to resume the spiritually enriching conversations that had actually intended so much to him in college. He traveled from Detroit to Schwartz's home in West Newton, Mass., and uncovered Schwartz eager to instruct his previous pupil in the art of living.

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Over a duration of months, Schwartz and Albom met consistently on a lot of Tuesdays, Albom videotaped the meetings and also ''Tuesdays via Morrie'' is the outcome.

Who was Morris Schwartz, that passed away in 1995, and also what did he have to say that Albom discovered so helpful? Schwartz came from a household of destitute Lower East Side Russian Jews and also came to be a leading member of the Brandeis sociology faculty. He was a genial fellow, whom Albom explains as looking, in his beginning robes, choose ''a cross in between a biblical prophet and also a Christmas elf.'' He loved to laugh and also dance, he was irreverent towards those in authority and also kind to the underprivileged. He was an ideas to his students and a loving husband and family man.

Albom's book is divided right into chapters that give us Schwartz's mindsets towards fatality, fear, aging, greed, marital relationship, family, culture, forgiveness and a meaningful life. The professor was not afrhelp of big statements: ''Love constantly wins,'' ''Money is not a substitute for tenderness,'' ''Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.'' One gets whiffs of Jesus, the Buddha, Epicurus, Montaigne and Erik Erikkid. Schwartz's advice to Albom boils down to referrals that he have to job-related less, think even more about his wife, offer himself to others and remember he hregarding die.

Unfortunately, such true and also occasionally emotional pieces of advice don't add approximately an extremely wise book. Though Albom insists that Schwartz's words have transcreated him, it's difficult to watch why, to judge from the proof in ''Tuesdays With Morrie.'' To be told that we must think even more of love and also less of money is no doubt correct, but it's difficult to put such advice right into exercise unless it is accompanied by some understanding of why we ever did otherwise. Because Albom falls short to accomplish any actual understanding right into his own formerly less-than-exemplary life, it's challenging for the reader to trust in his spiritual transdevelopment. Albom describes Schwartz's impact on others, including him, but never before rather captures the effect itself. In spite of the obvious cdamage and also good nature of both author and also subject, in the finish, the exhortations autumn flat. Just as a well-interpretation statement choose ''We have to all live in peace'' doesn't assist avert battles, ''Tuesdays via Morrie'' finally fails to enlighten.

Alain de Botton's most current book is ''How Proust Can Change Your Life.''

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