Memoirs teach me about life and writing

by Jerry Waxler

I’m reading 4 memoirs right now, and I learn something from each one.

From Margaret George’s “Never use your dim lights,” I’m learning how politicians jerk each other around, and how hard it is to stay idealistic in the world of politics.

From George Brummell’s “Shades of Darkness” I’m learning how brutal the Vietnam war was for infantry grunts. Wow, going out, watching friends die, and then going out again. I can’t imagine it.

From Frank McCourt’s “Angela’s Ashes,” I’m learning about growing up dirt poor in Ireland. And I’m listening to the audio book in awe as the Irish storyteller uses his superb voice to bring his characters to life. His inflections are so interesting, I feel like I’m in the hands of a master.

I just started “A Silent Gesture” by Tommie Smith. It starts not with his protest gesture at the 68 Olympics that made him famous, but with his return 30 years later to his Alma Mater to be praised and commended for the act that became such a powerful symbol of protest. Smith used the Olympic podium to silently register his protest, and in return, lost the advertising endorsements and other benefits his victory entitled him to..

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