This is one of the three books I borrowed from the library last week. I always go straight to the biography section first.
I'm not sure why, but I've always been drawn to memoirs, diaries, biographies and autobiographies. Learning who else a person is. When you think about it, especially with famous people, you only think you know them. They show us, sometimes very candidly, their professional identity. But there is always another layer. The other person, the one they hold back, their private identity. And I find that fascinating.
And then of course, there is the why of it all. How they came to be the person that they are, both privately and publicly. It's a curse of mine, always wanting to know the "why" of everything! Quite honestly, I find people endlessly fascinating. Where better to be fascinated by real people than that section of the library. Perhaps my Nana was correct, and I am just nosey.
There was no particular reason that I chose to read this autobiography. Not really. It was just the first book that my eyes settled upon when I reached that area. It's true that I rather like Bill Engvall's humour. Tim does too. And in fact, a very long time ago (when cars played cassettes and dinosaurs still walked the earth) we had to actually make a rule that there would be no Bill Engvall comedy tapes played in the car. Strange eh? Well it was for a good reason. It happend once upon a time when we had set out upon a car trip. Prior to leaving we bought a few new cassettes to enjoy, a new Bill Engvall tape was in the mix. We happened to be driving in very busy traffic when a particularly funny bit was playing. It was the first and only time that I ever saw Tim come close to losing control of the vehicle while driving. He was laughing so hard that he could barely see. Safety first people. Thus the ban.
We don't have nearly as many books in our home library as we used to, just a teensy tiny fraction actually but I just took a quick look 'round and saw: Harry Nilsson (My musical hero), Jeannette Walls, David Sierakowiak, Adam Richman, Kevin Smith, Frank McCourt and of course the one book I make it a point to read at least once every year, "Night" by Elie Wiesel. And that was without looking closely. Just one quick glance at the shelves and already, that many books about other real people's lives. Maybe I have a serious problem and the media should be alerted? Nah. I just like to read! I like to learn stuff!
But it isn't just about books! Sometimes there are programs on television about interesting folks, the biographies of famous and/or infamous people. I love when that happens. I sit still, eyes raptly fixed to the screen and only pay attention to what is happening there. Which is unusual in itself. Usually if I'm watching TV at all, I'm doing something else at the same time. Often multiple things. That's how little attention is required to follow most Tv shows. But tell me a true story about real people and I'm there.
I have to say that a book doesn't have to be 100% real to captivate me. It could just be fiction based on fact. That's close enough. And sometimes it's even better actually. No matter how many people are interviewed before someone write a biography, regardless of how many diaries or letters they read, the only person who truly knows what someone's life was like, is the person who lived it. And quite frequently, the subject of that story will still hold back some secrets. And biographers cannot help but lean in a particular direction while writing the story. It's human nature. Truth is always coloured with perspective. Yours, mine, his, hers, everyone has their own unique perspective.
One of my college professors once, to prove a point, set us up big time. There we were, those of us who bothered to show up to class, sitting in our seats waiting for the professor who was late. It was quite out of character for him to be late by the way. As we waited, some of us talked quietly amongst ourselves Others were re-reading material, or writing things in their notebooks or starring into space. Two people came into the room quietly. One of them started to take a seat the other stopped him. Nobody was really paying attention until their voices got loud! They started pushing and shoving and eventually books were dropped and a desk was turned over. Then the professor stepped into the room and it was over. It was mere minutes of activity, probably 2 or 3 minutes from the time the boys stepped into the room until the professor did. All of us sat their like statues. We each "tuned in" to the situation at different times but not one of us did anything other than observe, agog.
To our surprise, the professor thanked the boys who righted the desk, picked up their books, smiled and left the room. The professor then asked us each to write down exactly what we saw, with as much detail as possible. We did. The professor collected the papers and read them aloud. To our surprise, no two accounts of what we witnessed were exactly the same. It was while we were we mulling over this new information that the professor then told us, "And that is the problem with history books. Everyone sees history though their own personal lens"
His point was that we shouldn't read just one account of any bit of history but many of them. That is the only way we would learn, or even come close to learning, what really happened. Fascinating! And I believe correct.
But knowing that the biography, autobiography, memoir or published diary is probably not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, isn't going to stop me from reading it. It just means that I need to read MORE accounts of each persons life. Oh my! There have been a lot of famous or again infamous people in this world. I think it's going to take me awhile to get through them all!
But it's good to have a goal.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.