Thursday, December 18, 2014

(Audio)Book Talk: YES PLEASE, by Amy Poehler

Yes Please
Amy Poehler
Audiobook read by the author (with guests Kathleen Turner, Patrick Stewart, Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Michael Schur, and Bill and Eileen Poehler)
Dey Street Books (October 2014), Hardcover (ISBN 0062268341 / 9780062268341)
Nonfiction: memoir/essays, 352 pages
Source: Purchased audiobook (Harper Audio, October 2014, ISBN 9780062350886; Audible ASIN B00MP22QRQ)

Audiobook discussion on The 3 Rs Blog: YES PLEASE by Amy Poehler

The past few years have produced a bumper crop of notable memoir/essay collections by women already known for writing and performing comedy, and while it’s tempting to lump all of their books together, it’s not exactly fair. They may share some common traits, but Tina Fey’s book is not Mindy Kaling’s book is not Rachel Dratch’s book, and none of them is Amy Poehler’s book. However, Amy Poehler does make appearances in each of their books, and while she in was in the process of writing her own memoir/essay collection, Yes Please, she read all of their books.

“I like to say ‘yes,’ and I like to say ‘please’,” Poehler says, in explaining her book’s title. “Yes” is the governing principle of improv comedy, and each of Yes Please’s three sections opens with a chapter titled “How I Fell in Love With Improv” in a specific place and time. Poehler discovered improv while in college in Boston, and moved to Chicago after graduation intending to develop her writing and performing skills in that city’s comedy community. Years of classes and practice got her as far as Second City’s touring company, but it was her work as a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) that took her to New York and, ultimately, eight years on Saturday Night Live. And SNL took her to Pawnee, Indiana.

Poehler likes to say “please” because she values people treating each other decently, and that decency is one of the hallmarks of Parks and Recreation, which will begin its final season in January, and which is one of the most genuinely good-hearted comedies on television. I admit to liking my snarky fun as much as anyone, and probably more than some, but I’ve always loved the way Parks achieves sharp humor without being mean-spirited. Even when it takes digs—and it does take them—there’s a sense of real affection underneath it all, and Poehler’s ever-optimistic go-getter Leslie Knope is at its center, simultaneously irritating and endearing (or endearingly irritating, or irritatingly endearing, depending on how you look at it).

Poehler comes across a lot like Leslie in Yes Please, but her personal scale is weighted much more heavily on the “endearing” side. She is forthcoming about many things: her career struggles and successes, her experiences with recreational drug use, her joy in motherhood and in reaching a midlife comfort zone. She is also forthcoming about the fact she has no intention of being forthcoming about her divorce from her sons’ father, Will Arnett, but when she does speak about her ex, she is generous. Poehler’s generosity and appreciation extends to those who have been her closest friends and colleagues—it goes along with valuing consideration and decent treatment of other people. Some of them—her BFF Tina Fey, her Parks and Recreation costars—get chapters of Poehler singing their praises; others—Parks and Rec showrunner Mike Schur, SNL “Weekend Update” co-anchor Seth Meyers, and Eileen and Bill Poehler, Amy’s mom and dad—were invited to collaborate with Poehler in writing chapters of the book themselves.

Poehler’s co-writers also read with her on the audio version of Yes Please, which also features cameos from Carol Burnett, Patrick Stewart, and Poehler’s dream narrator, Kathleen Turner. This cast, and a final chapter recorded in a live reading at the UCB Theatre in Los Angeles, make for an audio extravaganza rather than than a mere audiobook, and I found it thoroughly delightful from beginning to end. The performance brings so much to the material I really can’t imagine reading Yes Please any other way than by ear. Given Poehler’s remarks about how hard it was to write a book, she may not do this again, so this could be your only opportunity to read her at all; if you’re inclined to do so, I urge you to listen to her.

Rating: Book, 3.75 of 5; Audio, 4.25 of 5

Book description, from the publisher’s website
Do you want to get to know the woman we first came to love on Comedy Central’s Upright Citizens Brigade? Do you want to spend some time with the lady who made you howl with laughter on Saturday Night Live, and in movies like Baby Mama, Blades of Glory, and They Came Together? Do you find yourself daydreaming about hanging out with the actor behind the brilliant Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation? Did you wish you were in the audience at the last two Golden Globes ceremonies, so you could bask in the hilarity of Amy’s one-liners?
If your answer to these questions is “Yes Please!” then you are in luck. In her first book, one of our most beloved funny folk delivers a smart, pointed, and ultimately inspirational read. Full of the comedic skill that makes us all love Amy, Yes Please is a rich and varied collection of stories, lists, poetry (Plastic Surgery Haiku, to be specific), photographs, mantras and advice. With chapters like “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend,” “Plain Girl Versus the Demon” and “The Robots Will Kill Us All” Yes Please will make you think as much as it will make you laugh. Honest, personal, real, and righteous, Yes Please is full of words to live by.
From the Introduction, “How to Use This Book”:

“This book is a missive from the middle. It’s a street-level view of my life so far. It’s an attempt to speak to that feeling of being young and old at the same time. I cannot change the fact that I am an American White Woman who grew up Lower-Middle-Class and had Children after spending most of her life Acting and Doing Comedy, so if you hate any of those buzzwords you may want to bail now. Sometimes this book stays in the present, other times I try to cut myself in half and count the rings. Occasionally I think about the future, but I try to do that sparingly because it usually makes me anxious. Yes Please is an attempt to present an open scrapbook that includes a sense of what I am thinking and feeling right now. But mostly, let’s call this book what it is: an obvious money grab to support my notorious online shopping addiction. I have already spent the advance on fancy washcloths from Amazon, so I need this book to really sell a lot of copies or else I am in trouble. Chop-chop, people.”

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Month of Favorites: Two Wintry Topics for Week 3

A Month of Favorites December 2014 blog event

I think there may have been a time, long before my blogging days, when my reading did follow seasonal patterns; winter books tended to be more substantive, while summer reads were lighter--kind of like seasonal eating, I suppose, or tracking along with the school calendar. I don't really see that happening any more, and while I suppose it's possible that things shifted because I no longer live in a place that has well-defined seasons, I don't think that's the reason. I suspect it's more due to the fact that the time I have available for reading doesn't tend to cycle with the seasons, and so I read what's around, whenever it fits in.

With all that said, here are "5 Fave Winter Reads" from December 2013 through March 2014. You'll probably notice that none of these books is particularly "wintry," but a couple do have their share of snowy scenes.

#AMonthofFaves "5 Fave Winter Reads" at The 3 Rs Blog

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson, read December 2013:
"I find the scope of social and technological change from one end of the twentieth century to the other endlessly fascinating, and every time I listened to One Summer, I was dropped right into a piece of it."
Fin and Lady by Cathleen Schine, read January 2014:
" Lady and Fin have the sort of life that I rarely encounter outside of fiction. Still, their story and their relationship rarely felt less than real to me--I couldn't resist them, although I admit I didn't try very hard."
One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak, read January 2014:
"I'm not generally a short-fiction fan, but this was 'potato-chip reading'--I kept thinking I'd have just a few, but then I'd dig further and further into this engaging, imaginative collection of stories that are difficult to read just one at a time."
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, read March 2014:
"Fangirl is an unconventional coming-of-age college story crossed with a first-love story and flavored with modern Internet-based fan culture. I think that's a pretty ambitious undertaking, and I think it succeeds at just about every level."
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, read between January and April 2014:
"The story told by Death is one of the most life-affirming novels I’ve ever read, and is ultimately a story of love–love of friends, of family, of home, and of books."
The link-up for this topic in A Month of Favorites is hosted at Estella’s Revenge.

I've spent a good chunk of my life living in places--Florida and Southern California, specifically--that just don't have weather you'd tend to identify with "winter," and that probably makes me less qualified than most to suggest "5 Must Haves for Winter Survival" for the Month of Favorites link-up on that topic hosted at Traveling with T. However, I also spent about a decade and a half living in places--New England and central New York State--than have plenty of winter, so I do have some experience with the concept.

a fake winter scene from Southern California

All disclaimers aside, here are five things that would be winter must-haves for me:

  • Warm, waterproof boots (These are useful even in California--if we're going to get rain here at all, we'll get it in the winter.)
  • Cozy throw blankets
  • Bright lighting, and LOTS of it (Winter nights start early, and winter days are often gray and gloomy. I am convinced that one reason the "winter blues" hit so hard in January is because we've taken down the festive holiday lights by then.)
  • Grapeseed oil (Ever since learning about grapeseed oil's benefits for the skin on the blog Already Pretty, I've kept a small bottle in the bathroom to apply after showers, and it's an effective, long-lasting, and surprisingly light moisturizer. And since I fill the small bottle from the big one I keep in the kitchen for cooking, it's also really cheap.)
  • A few days off to visit somewhere warm (Just try not to wind up in the middle of a crowd of rowdy spring-breakers!)

What helps get you through the wintertime?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Book Talk: THE ART OF ASKING, by Amanda Palmer (via Shelf Awareness)

The Art of Asking: or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help
Amanda Palmer (Twitter) (Facebook)
Grand Central Publishing (November 2014), Hardcover (ISBN 1455581089 / 9781455581085)
Nonfiction: Memoir/autobiography, 352 pages

A version of this review was previously published in Shelf Awareness for Readers (December 9, 2014). Shelf Awareness provided me with a publisher-furnished galley to facilitate the review, and compensated me for the review they received and posted.

Book discussion on The 3 R's Blog: THE ART OF ASKING by Amanda Palmer

“It is a fear of the no that keeps so many of our mouths sewn tightly shut” says musician/performance artist Amanda Palmer. Palmer’s first book, The Art of Asking, explores her relationship with that fear through her experiences as a creator, a businesswoman, a friend, and a wife.

The story of Palmer’s journey from Boston street busker to Kickstarter success story and linchpin of a devoted online community offers many examples of what can be accomplished when someone is willing to tear out those stitches and risk the “no,” but it’s also brutally honest about just how difficult it can be to do that. Palmer’s account of her conflict over accepting financial help from her own husband, writer Neil Gaiman, until the money from the million-dollar Kickstarter campaign comes in is a particularly vivid illustration of that difficulty, and exploring it through this and other experiences yields reflections on relationship dynamics, trust, and vulnerability. Vulnerability as strength is a theme Palmer shares with fellow TED-talk veteran Brene Brown, who contributes the Foreword to The Art of Asking.

Palmer frames many of her “lessons learned” in terms of their practical meaning for fellow artists, and her experiences with nurturing connection with supporters—a significant factor in her crowdfunding success—are valuable enough as that. However, The Art of Asking also works as personal memoir, building on the directness and honesty with which Palmer has honed those connections through her years as a songwriter, poet, and blogger. Much as Anne Lamott offered “instructions on writing and life” in Bird by Bird, Amanda Palmer’s openness to “letting people help” may be instructive to anyone who struggles with that fear of the “no.”

Book description, from the publisher’s website
Rock star, crowdfunding pioneer, and TED speaker Amanda Palmer knows all about asking. Performing as a living statue in a wedding dress, she wordlessly asked thousands of passersby for their dollars. When she became a singer, songwriter, and musician, she was not afraid to ask her audience to support her as she surfed the crowd (and slept on their couches while touring). And when she left her record label to strike out on her own, she asked her fans to support her in making an album, leading to the world's most successful music Kickstarter.
Even while Amanda is both celebrated and attacked for her fearlessness in asking for help, she finds that there are important things she cannot ask for-as a musician, as a friend, and as a wife. She learns that she isn't alone in this, that so many people are afraid to ask for help, and it paralyzes their lives and relationships. In this groundbreaking book, she explores these barriers in her own life and in the lives of those around her, and discovers the emotional, philosophical, and practical aspects of THE ART OF ASKING.
Part manifesto, part revelation, this is the story of an artist struggling with the new rules of exchange in the twenty-first century, both on and off the Internet. THE ART OF ASKING will inspire readers to rethink their own ideas about asking, giving, art, and love.
From The Art of Asking:

"You may have a memory of when you first, as a child, started connecting the dots of the world. Perhaps outside on a cold-spring-day school field trip, mud on your shoes, mentally straying from the given tasks at hand, as you began to find patterns and connections where you didn't notice them before. You may remember being excited by your discoveries, and maybe you held them up proudly to the other kids, saying:

    did you ever notice that this looks like this?
    the shapes on this leaf look like the cracks in this puddle of ice
   which look like the veins on the back of my hand
   which look like the hairs stuck to the back of her sweater...

"Collecting the dots. Then connecting them. And then sharing the connections with those around you. This is how a creative human works. Collecting, connecting, sharing."

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Salon, December 14: Quickies

Today is my stepson Spencer's 15th birthday, and his grandmother is visiting for the weekend to celebrate with us. It's also the day we finally got the Christmas tree put up and decorated. I'm grabbing a few minutes in between events to check into the Sunday Salon.

The Sunday Salon at The 3 Rs Blog

What I’m reading
  • in print / on screen
I'm about one-fourth through My Father's Wives by Mike Greenberg, a fiction galley I'll be reviewing for Shelf Awareness in January. I'm pretty underwhelmed with the February galleys I got from them, so I'm not sure I'll be doing two reviews for that month--I'm thinking I'd rather spend that time reading for myself, and I have so many ebooks on the iPad to choose from right now.
  • on audio
I think I'll finish As You Wish, Cary Elwes' account of the making of The Princess Bride, early this week, and I've been absolutely loving it.

What I’m watching

We spent some time this morning catching up on DVR recordings, and finally watched the Flash/Arrow crossover episodes. I think it played to the individual strengths of both shows while working as a story on its own, and I really hope they do more of these!

What I’m writing

I've been enjoying my when-the-mood-strikes participation in A Month of Favorites, and if I join in this week, it'll be for Wednesday's "Fave Winter Reads" linkup. I'm not ready to commit to "Top 10 2014 Reads" yet, and I'm not sure that living in Southern Calfornia offers many opportunities to suggest "5 Must Haves for Winter Survival." (Have a friend who lives somewhere warm that you can visit? That might help!)

What Else is New?

Merry Christmas 2014 from The 3 Rs Blog

This will be my last full week in the office for 2014. I'm taking all of Christmas week off, plus the following Monday. My son Chris arrives for a week-long holiday visit this Friday, and we will be hosting Christmas Eve dinner this year. I'm hoping to get some reading in during downtime, though. (There will be downtime, right?)

The Weekly Winchester

Man and best friend
Best buddies, unwinding together in the evening

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Month of Favorites: 5 For the Digital Life

A Month of Favorites, December 2014

A couple of months ago, I talked about which device--laptop, smartphone, or tablet--I preferred to use for particular tasks. Today's topic in A Month of Favorites asks for "5 Most Useful Digital Lifehacks," so I'll tell you about a few of the apps I use and rely on every day. There's a link-up hosted at Estella’s Revenge--be sure to visit to find more suggestions!
Disclosure/disclaimer: I use a Windows desktop PC, a MacBook Pro laptop, an iPhone 6, and an iPad mini. Some of these applications run cross-platform, but I'll note if mobile ones are iOS-only. (I'm sure you Android users have your own exclusive favorites, too.) Also, when there's a paid upgrade or subscription plan available for an app, I'll usually buy it, but you may not find it necessary.
A Month of Favorites: "5 Most Useful Digital Life Hacks" on The 3 Rs Blog

Audible (all platforms, free) 
The app is free. The audiobooks can be purchased individually or bought with credits on a subscription plan. I never had any desire to read by ear on tape or compact disc, but the downloadable audiobook, sent to my smartphone and played via a connection to my car stereo, has changed my daily commute. And since I spend a good two hours a day, five days a week, commuting, audiobooks have thoroughly transformed my reading life.

Mr. Reader  (iOS-iPad only, $3.99)
If you read blogs on an iPad, it's absolutely worth the four bucks to read them via Mr. Reader. The app syncs with ten different feed services (including Feedly, Feedbin, and InoReader), supports folders and at least a dozen article-sharing options, and offers changeable, customizable reading views.

One of my favorite things about Mr. Reader is that I can selectively mark all as read based on the "age" of a post--from 2 weeks to 3 hours old; if I'm behind on my blogs, I can weed down to the most recent posts I think I can get to. I also like the fact that, most of the time, I can comment on posts without leaving the app by switching to the "web" view. (The exceptions, as you might guess, usually occur with Blogger sites.)

Dropbox (all platforms, basic free, paid plan available)
Because I do so many tasks on different devices and across various operating systems, I am a cloud-storage devotee. Thanks to Gmail, Google Drive gives me 25 GB free storage in the cloud. Apple offers me another 5 GB free storage in iCloud Drive. But I pay for the annual Dropbox subscription that gets me 1 TB (that's a terabyte, y'all) storage.

I back up all my photos to Dropbox in both their original and edited versions, and that 1 TB should be enough space for many more years' worth of those. I have Dropbox backup and sync set up for many of my other favorite apps, including Byword (text drafting in Markdown) and Day One (journaling), so I can access those files anywhere I want them.
Other perks of Dropbox are secure file sharing--e-mail someone a custom link rather than the file itself--and lack of format favoritism. Google and iCloud make more features
available to files in their own formats; Dropbox doesn't care where your files come from.

Evernote (all platforms, basic free, paid plan available) 
I don't think I maximize the potential of Evernote, to be honest, and I don't really use it much for raw note-taking. But if Dropbox is my virtual storage locker, Evernote is my file cabinet.

Evernote is where I keep reference materials, including items I want to use for blog posts. It's a bookmarking service for articles and sites I want to go back to visit...just once or twice. It's my recipe binder. Its business-card scanner means I can literally keep cards in my phone and not cluttering my desk. It's a handy PDF reader, and if you subscribe to the paid plan ($5.00/month), you can also annotate PDFs within the app. And it's a great place to jeep your grocery list, especially paired with...

Grocerytrip (iOS, $2.99)
Tag a list or recipe in Evernote with "grocerytrip," and this app will pull it into a shopping list, organized by aisle. Most of the time, it puts items into thecorrect aisle, too--but you can move things around if they're not where you want them, and the app will (usually) "remember" that for next time. It's remarkable how much faster you can get through the supermarket when your list is arranged by where you find stuff.

I'm always interested in learning about cool and helpful apps, so tell me about some of your favorites!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Month of Favorites: A Year in Books, By Month

A Year in Books Timeline {Which month did you … read the most, the least, read the book you liked LEAST for the year, read your longest book, tried a new genre, fell hard for a book boyfriend, re-read a favorite, finished an epic series, read something you’ve been wanting to read for a long time etc. } – link-up hosted at Traveling with T

A Year in Books for A Month of Favorites at The 3 Rs Blog

When did I read the longest book? January through AprilThe Book Thief was officially my First Book of 2014, but I didn't finish it till until the Spring Readathon. (To be fair, I picked it up and put it down a number of times in between, for assorted reasons.) It's also the longest book I read this year (576 pages). 

When did I read the shortest book? June. Midsummer, a novella I read for a TLC Book Tour, was just 150 pages long.

When did I listen to the longest audiobook? July. The Silkworm was 17 hours and 22 minutes of good, grotesque times.

When did I listen to the shortest audiobook? August. I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star was 5.5 hours long. (I think I was looking for something speedy after The Silkworm.)

When did I read the book I liked LEAST? September. The 11.75 hours I spent listening to How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky are lost forever (because I didn't cut my losses by quitting on it).

The best books (rated 4 or higher on my 5-point scale), by month:


  • The Book Thief









Tuesday, December 9, 2014

(E)Book Talk: MARY AND LOU AND RHODA AND TED, by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic
Jennifer K. Armstrong (Twitter)
Simon & Schuster (2013), Hardcover (ISBN 1451659202 / 9781451659207)
Nonfiction: popular culture, 336 pages
Source: Purchased e-book (iBooks edition)

Book discussion on The 3 Rs Blog: MARY AND LOU AND RHODA AND TED by Jennifer K. Armstrong

Kids, there was a time when people had to watch television shows at the time the TV stations (of which there were as few as three and as many as eight, if you were lucky and/or lived near a big city) chose to put them on, and one of those times was Saturday night. If you wanted to watch TV on Saturday night, you had to stay home to do it. And when the Saturday-night TV schedule was All in the Family. MASH, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and The Carol Burnett Show, people stayed home. Granted, I was ten years old at the time--where else would I be but home on Saturday night? I was watching those shows from beginning to end (or till I fell asleep on the couch) and my allegiance to any one of them as my "favorite" tended to shift...although, to be honest, it never really was All in the Family. Despite my youth, it frequently was The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's history of the show, helped me remember why that was--and gave me more reasons to appreciate it.

The fact that The Mary Tyler Moore Show was centered on an unmarried thirty-year-old woman whose work and personal relationships were equally important to her life was groundbreaking, even controversial, when it premiered in 1970. The fact that the show's protagonist, Mary Richards, was single rather than divorced was a compromise between the show's producers and the network. Once the show found its footing--and the accompanying critical and popular acclaim--there would be little need for compromises, but the groundbreaking continued. Producers Jim Brooks and Allan Burns eagerly recruited women to write for the show, ensuring that its prominent female characters-- Mary, her neighbors and friends Rhoda and Phyllis, coworker Sue Ann, and the wives and girlfriends of the men Mary worked with--would speak and act in ways that reflected the women in its audience. This was the "women's lib" era--we refer back to it as "second-wave feminism" these days--and this character-driven sitcom was both mirroring and modeling it.

However, while it was socially conscious, The Mary Tyler Moore Show rarely tackled hot-button social issues head-on (that was All in the Family's thing). It also never forgot that, despite having its star's name in the title, it was first and foremost an ensemble comedy; it had to develop its characters and their relationships, and it had to be funny. Its success at both makes it an enduring example of "quality television;" the fact that it gave a new voice, both on- and off-screen, to women is what makes it a genuine classic.

I've been finding myself drawn to reading about the 1970s for a few years now. Part of my interest may be nostalgia for the popular culture of my childhood, but when I revisit it, I discover how my worldview was shaped by a time period during which I was not terribly aware of the world at large. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted offers the fun of revisiting some classic episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, along with anecdotes from its cast that illustrate just how much impact genuinely liking your work, and your coworkers, can have on the end-product. However, Armstrong is equally interested in the story of what went on behind the scenes, and the creative, modern-thinking team who crafted that end-product and put it into the hands of that cast. That story is what really held my attention. I enjoyed discovering that the people who created and developed Mary Richards were as progressive as she was...and gratified to learn that so many of them were women. It's made me even fonder of a show I've always loved, and a little bit prouder of loving it.

Rating: 3.75 of 5

Book description, from the publisher’s website:
When writer-producers James L. Brooks and Allan Burns dreamed up an edgy show about a divorced woman with a career, the CBS executives they pitched replied: “American audiences won’t tolerate divorce in a series’ lead any more than they will tolerate Jews, people with mustaches, and people who live in New York.”
Forty years later, The Mary Tyler Moore Show is one of the most beloved and recognizable television shows of all time. It was an inspiration to a generation of women who wanted to have it all in an era when everything seemed possible.
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong’s Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted tells the stories behind the making of this popular classic, introducing the groundbreaking female writers who lent real-life stories to their TV scripts; the men who created the indelible characters; the lone woman network executive who cast the legendary ensemble—and advocated for this provocative show—and the colorful cast of actors who made it all work. James L. Brooks, Grant Tinker, Allan Burns, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Betty White, Gavin MacLeod, Ed Asner, Ted Knight, Georgia Engel—they all came together to make a show that changed women’s lives and television itself. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted is the tale of how they did it.
Opening lines (Chapter 1):

“There is a certain trajectory your life takes when you create a classic book or movie, song or television show. It’s a path followed by all those who accomplish this rate feat…and yet they never know they’re on it at the time. And thus they never know if the vision they’re fighting for is valid, much less great. They don’t know of the accolades, or the difficulties, that are to come. They don’t know how hard it will be to move on from such a rarefied experience, not how hard it will be to duplicate it, but they will try, because, let’s face it, they won’t have much choice. Most of them will find out that comebacks are hard to come by. Then they will, if they are lucky, come to accept that even one classic in one’s life is quite enough, and they will sit back and enjoy all the glory that gives them before their time is through.

“It is not, all in all, a bad life. But it’s not as easy as it looks, either.

“Jim Brooks was on his way to such a fate, though he never would have guessed it, when he was spending his days writing copy for CBS News in New York—reports on the Bay of Pigs, Andy Warhol, Beatlemania, anything and everything that came though on the clanging wire service machines.”

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