A life story

We mark with light in the memory the few interviews we have had with souls that made our souls wiser, that spoke what we thought, that told us what we knew, that gave us leave to be what we inly are.”  – David Richo

I am covering a funeral tomorrow of a very special man to this community. He has let our journalists follow his everyday life, his struggle with illness and now, the final chapter, his death. We have shared in everything from his surprise birthday party to a date with his girlfriend. We’ve spent hours hanging out with his family at the hospital, in their home or out in the community at events. We have been witnesses to how many friends, family members and acquaintances he has touched in his lifetime. Though I am confident in my ability to cover this funeral because I am creating the video, I find myself daunted by our writer’s part in this story. How do you find the words to encompass a whole person? How do you do justice to someone who has touched so many people? Maybe it is simply because I am not a writer, but I would love and be completely intimidated by the honor of writing a person’s last chapter. How do you capture it all? The history, humor, hope, faith and everlasting love of a lifetime. I believe that the ability to write it, and write it well, is an amazing achievement.

So in honor of true stories of all shapes and sizes, of everyone who has had their life written down with the eloquence and emotion it deserves, I wanted to dedicate a post to some great new non-fiction.

  A STOLEN LIFE, by Jaycee Dugard. (Simon & Schuster, $24.99.) A woman tells of being kidnapped at the age of 11 and held prisoner for 18 years by a convicted rapist and his wife.

I have not started this book but it is on my TBR shelf. To not only experience something that difficult but to share it with the world? She sounds like an incredibly brave person and I can’t wait to read her story.

  UNBROKEN, by Laura Hillenbrand. (Random House, $27.) An Olympic runner’s story of survival as a prisoner of the Japanese in World War II.

I have just started Unbroken this week and I can tell you just from the first few chapters that this book is beautifully written. It has elegant imagery and moments I know will stay with me long after I’ve finished. You should see my copy, highlights galore.

  BOSSYPANTS, by Tina Fey. (Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown, $26.99.) A memoir from the creator of “30 Rock.”

Though this is not so new anymore, it still deserves a mention because a lot of people I know haven’t read it yet. We do need the stories of survival, but we also need the stories that make us laugh.

  TURN RIGHT AT MACHU PICCHU by Mark Adams. (Dutton, $26.95.) Retracing the steps of the ancient city’s discoverers.

Sounds an interesting journey for those that have and have not visited Machu Picchu. It is an astonishing place that may be closed to the public soon because of too much tourism. So if you never get to see it, this book might be the next best thing.

Non-fiction is compelling because it is so often startlingly brave and true. To know that another person has struggled, has fought, has suffered and somehow, has triumphed, is a message we all need sometimes. The resilience and power of the human spirit is an important feat we all must witness, whether it be in our own everyday life, or in the lives of those whom we read about in books.

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West with the Night by Beryl Markham

There are all kinds of silences and each of them means a different thing. There is the silence that comes with morning in a forest, and this is different from the silence of a sleeping city. There is silence after a rainstorm, and before a rainstorm, and these are not the same. There is silence of emptiness, the silence of fear, the silence of doubt. There is a certain silence that can emanate from a lifeless object as from a chair lately used, or from a piano with old dust upon its keys, or from anything that has answered to the need of man, for pleasure or for work. This kind of silence can speak. Its voice may be melancholy, but it is not always so; for the chair may have been left by a laughing child or the the last notes of the piano may have been raucous and gay. Whatever the mood or the circumstance, the essence of its quality may linger in the silence that follows. It is a soundless echo.