Tuesday, April 18, 2006

And You Know You Should Be Glad by Bob Greene

For years Bob Greene was a regular columnist for the Chicago Tribune his columns evoked a common Midwestern everyman feel to them. He wrote about the things people cared about and he wrote those things from the heart.

And You Know You Should Be Glad is a natural extension of his columns-- the biography of a friendship, Greene's lifelong friendship with Jack Roth. But in Greene's friendship with Jack we're given a journey of exploration into our own friendships. We as readers can understand the emotional journey of the friendship as most of us have had or still have that friend. The one with whom you don't need to tell how you feel because he already knows. That friend who instinctively knows when to call you without being asked and that friend whom you would drop everything for if you were ever called upon to do so.

Greene was asked to do just that when called by another in his fabulous fivesome of Allen, Chuck, Dan, and Jack (and of course Bob Greene himself):

"Give me a call," the voice continued. "It's about Jack. He's a little ill, and I wanted to explain it to you." Chuck had never couched a sentence in words like that in our lives.

With a simple phone call the emotional journey begins. As someone who believes life is about the journey rather than the destination. This book exemplifies that very spirit. The book is a journey. In the end, we all know the destination. But Greene does an excellent job of making this book not so much about that destination but about the journey of friendship he took with Allen, Chuck, Dan, and Jack.

We feel those bonds of friendship with his friends because many of us have felt those very same bonds with friends of our own. We come to know and enjoy the inside jokes and the "you had to be there" style of stories of the adventures he and his friends went on together in this long journey called life.

In the end this book isn't just the biography of a friendship, it's a tribute to good friendships everywhere. It works so well because, much like with Greene's old Tribune columns, it strikes a chord with all of us.

7 comments:

Bruce said...

I seem to remember reading some of Greene's columns in the past; I think he was syndicated at one time. Anyway, I always enjoyed his stuff. Thanks for the heads up; I'll have to check out the book.

Perplexio said...

Bruce: I know he occassionally has a column appearing in the NY Times these days. I just know his column is quite missed in the Chicago area.

Bar Bar A said...

This sounds really good. Thanks buddy. I've missed my blog friends this week - I've been kind of in another world so to speak. Take care.

Bruce said...

I remember now....(whoa; Operation: Mindcrime flashback there)

I saw him a lot on ESPN back in the day, especially on Up Close with Roy Firestone.

Perplexio said...

Bruce: He was featured quite prominently in the Imax documentary on Michael Jordan. I believe he's quite a basketball and baseball fan (and occassionally his columns covered sports themes/topics). I believe he also, at one point, wrote a book about Michael Jordan and his impact on the sport of basketball.

Barbara: I think you'd quite enjoy his writing. It is rather "close to the heart." Greene's departure from the Chicago Tribune was not an amicable one and was not handled in the best of ways. He's had a rough couple of years but his writing is still quite exceptional.

Anonymous said...

The book about the North Platte canteen is about the most heart warming story about an occurrece during WW11 here in the united States that few know about.

It is an unbelievable feat to "support" the war effort.

Please read it.

Anonymous said...

I would like to be able to contact Bob Greene. It is in regard to his friend and subject of his book "And You Know You Should Be Glad" Jack Roth was also a business friend of mine.
For many years I was officed at 500North Michigan Avenue, across from the Tribune Tower, as Prsident of Storck USA,LP a candy company and dealt for many years with Jack.
If anyone has Bob's current e-mail addresa or web site, I would appreciate that information.

Richard R. Harshman
harshmanconsul@aol.com