Sunday, October 15, 2006

Plot Points with Morrie

I just finished reading Tuesdays with Morrie. I didn't want to. She made me. She sort of bribed me by telling me that, despite the lame metaphors, the sickly dialogue, and the unforgivable platitudes, Tuesdays with Morrie would teach me a thing or two about structure. She was right.

In the book, author Mitch Albom has at least five trajectories going. The most obvious is the decline of Morrie's health which ends in his death. Beneath those are several other, more subtle, character and plot developments.

There is the rekindled friendship between Mitch and Morrie which develops. Mitch opens up, begins touching Morrie, tells Morrie about his life and ultimately, Mitch cries the last day he sees Morrie.

Another of the stories is told in flashbacks. Albom takes us back to his college days at Brandeis where and Morrie first bonded. Albom begins this thread (and the whole book) with a conversation between he and Morrie at his college graduation. Then he flashes back to his first class with Morrie. Throughout the book we see their college friendship blossom as Albom carries us back toward his graduation.

Albom also tells about his estrangement from his brother. They are separated emotionally and physically. Throughout the third section of the story, Albom drops little reminders of what is happening. At the end of the book, the issue is resolved with a returned phone call.

Last, and possibly most important, Albom shows the change in his own attitude toward success and his career. It starts when the union at the newspaper where he works goes out on strike. The strike is not resolved before the book ends and Albom's work becomes spreading Morrie's message, a message of hope and a revolutionary attitude toward dying.

I never thought I'd recommend it, but read it - closely. If it doesn't change your life, it will certainly change your writing.

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