A novel you buy to cry

For one more day
Mitch Albom
Sphere

Reading for one more day is at first easy, charming and then an altogether a mushy job. We know America as a place Bin Laden loves to crash-land airplanes, as also the land George Bush imports oil and exports democracy from.

It is also the land of broken homes. Divorce rates in the US are among the highest in the world. Mitch Albom’s novel tells the story of Chick Benetto, whose father walked out of his life when he was still a child.

Chick himself grows up to become a drunk and a divorcee. An inheritance of loss, yes? Well, Chick is so far gone, he doesn’t get invited to his only daughter’s wedding. He doesn’t, as I might, see it as saving money on a gift. On the contrary.

And so he decides to take matters into his hands and kill himself. Chick makes his suicide-run to his hometown. After the car crash, Chick is miraculously alive.

Half out of mind, he enters his old house. And, mush, mush, steps into the arms of his loving mother, now eight years dead.

This is the basic story then. Of Chick coming to terms with the tough times he gave to his loyal, loving, selfless mother, and countless, unacknowledged good things she had done for Chick.

At the end of the reminiscences, Chick discovers that he could still find a reason to live because of his mother. Or memories of her love for him.

It’s not clear from the novel, if this is a ghost story. It certainly is a sentimental story, almost as sentimental as the Erich Segal’s Love Story. Remember Love Story?

The novel we all read and cried silly when we were in school? Recall those Before-Christ years? This novel is like that. I always find it interesting that America is the toughest Cop in the Universe and they love to cry. Which is probably why Albom’s novel is a best-seller.

The good thing about for one more day is that its prose is disarmingly simple. There are no flourishes, no literary tricks.

The trouble is after a while it gets on your nerves. How long can you suffer simplicity? Half way through, we are dangerously close to the Boredom zone and the only thing that keeps you going is the Mother: is she a ghost or not?

Yes and no, as it happens. The suspense just about pulls you through the sweet maudlin swamp. If only Albom wrote for real people! Here is an excerpt from one of the Chapters titled ‘Times My Mother Stood Up for Me’. The passage makes clear alike the novel’s strengths and weaknesses:

“I am fifteen and, for the first time I need to shave. My mother …. calls me to the bathroom one night….She has purchased a Gillette Safety Razor, two stainless steel blades, and a tube of Burma- Shave cream…I squeeze the cream from the tube. I dab it on my face.

“You rub it in,”she says.I rub it in. I keep going until my cheeks and chin are covered. I take the razor.
“Be careful,”she says. “Pull in one direction, not up and down.”

“I know,”I say, annoyed. I follow her instructions…When I pull the blade over my chin, it sticks and I feel a cut.
“Oooh, Charley, are you all right?”
She reaches for me, then pulls her hands back as if she knows she shouldn’t…”When I am finished, she puts her cheek in one hand and smiles. She whispers, in British accent, “By George, you’ve got it.”
See what I mean? Stuff like that, and lots of it. This is the kind of novel you buy so you can cry. Source From: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/rssfeeds/1076365.cms

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