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Tuesdays With Morrie

Tuesdays With Morrie - Mitch Albom Rating – 1/5, downgraded from the 2/5 I gave this immediately after finishing it.

I don’t write a lot of reviews, but the sheer magnitude of divided opinions on this one is very compelling.

The only saving grace of Tuesdays with Morrie is that it’s a ‘memoir’, a story about a real-life person and a real-life student-teacher relationship. Mitch and Morrie’s relationship is touching in their affection for each other and their discussions have the potential to invite deep thought – if only they weren’t presented as a collection of fortune cookie sayings.

Reading this felt like flipping through a collection of inspirational posters, making the whole process very onerous.

Mitch Albom missed a trick here. I recognize that there is not a lot of room in a memoir for literary freedom, and the author could not spin stories to support Morrie’s edicts. But the juxtaposition of Mitch’s life and Morrie’s philosophy provided a tailor-made stage to show how to and how not to follow his ideas.

A more elaborate discussion along these lines, with a healthy dose of real life context, was needed to show the relevance of Morrie’s ideas. All we get is fleeting glimpses into the life and regrets of Mitch.

In fact, in a number of cases, the author shies away from talking about his life even though it is clear that his discussions with Morrie are centered on it, almost as if he is reluctant to share too much with the reader. Which is justified, of course; he has a right to his privacy. But it makes the book feel incomplete.

Morrie Schwartz was no hypocrite – it is clear that he wanted his ideas on how to live a fulfilling life out in the open, for the world to hear (and read). The Ted Koppell shows are proof of that. But given his views on money, there is considerable irony in the fact that a lack of funds for his medical treatment served as the main motivation behind this book – another testimony to the importance of context, and how it shapes actions and decisions.