Saturday, February 02, 2008

Return of Johnny Deadline

Bob Greene is back, reporting for CNN from the campaign trail.

As I said on Metafilter, where I found this link, I have such a love-hate relationship with Greene. I adore the naive 17-year-old in his senior diary, "Be True To Your School," and while I realize he relies on the same nostalgic America themes in his columns, and that he knows how to push all the simplistic buttons that make us react to his nostalgia, I enjoy his work anyway.

Yet it's impossible to imagine that same 17-year-old as the dirty old man that's surfaced in all these reports. I want to go back in time and shake him.

I also find it a little disturbing that he gushes so over Lindy Lemon in his writings, but his own wife, Susan, who died right after Greene was fired, doesn't play nearly as important a role in his printed work.

Maybe she just wanted privacy, and asked him not to write about her (and she was in "Good Morning, Merry Sunshine,: his diary of his daughter Amanda's first year, by necessity), but it feels odd. His books are very much BOB-N-LINDY 4EVAH, which would have ticked me off no end if I was the wife having and raising his children. They say people he worked with didn't even know he was married until he wrote the book about Amanda.

I'll still read every word he writes. I can't help it.


Cheryl said...

I love his books and columns too Gael. I read the same book you did way back and felt a kinship. I was also from Ohio. As the years passed, his life stories were parallel to mine. Myfirst child was born right around the time of Good Morning, Merry Sunshine". I turned 50 and bought 10 copies of "The Fifty Year Dash" for my closest high school pals that I still keep in touch with. I read the book about the road trip with his buddies from gade school. His writing often touched me too. His accounts of the homeless, abused kids, etc brought tears to my eyes and made me a more unselfish person.

That Guy said...

I loved "Be True..." as well.

There are a lot of artists whose work I like but whose personal lives/politics/whatever I really dislike...too many to list, really...

Amy said...

Amen to that, sister.

He told me what Lindy's real name is, but I forgot!

I have never even seen so much as a picture of his wife. I remember that her obit mentioned the volunteer work she had been involved in.

That Esquire article about him that came out after she died was just...sad. I just re-read it a month or so ago.

Anonymous said...

That Esquire article about him is one of the best pieces I've ever read. Utterly riveting and heartbreaking.

Dimestore Lipstick said...

I've never been able to get a grip on how I feel about Bob Greene. His writing has always mesmerized me, and I tried to think the best of him over the years. But just when I started to figure he was a misunderstood mensch, I'd read something about him that threw me yet again. I'll always remember a remark about him in a big article a few years ago, that spoke to how meticulously he crafts his personna:

"His biggest wardrobe expansion was a rotating set of toupees in different styles: just got a haircut, growing out, and shaggy long hair."