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Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography

This was a pick for the Tutor.com Office Book Club, so I am kind of “discussed” out, but for your enjoyment – some thoughts!

  • This man is amazing. As much as I thought I knew about him, I didn’t. Printing, bifocals, electricity, sure. But paving roads, libraries and the Freemasons? What doesn’t this guy do? How many “Renaissance Men” have there really been? Him, DaVinci and Jefferson?
  • It’s amazing what has been left out. Some of it was intentional, because he knew history would take care of it, but it never ceases to amaze me that there was very little mention of his wife or children. Wouldn’t expect a female autobiography to gloss over all of that.
  • Interesting to think about how the autobiography or memoir has changed as a genre, and writing styles.
  • Definitely recommend the Norton Critical Edition of the book. Having some reference material made a somewhat dry book very interesting.
  • Franklin was an ethical vegetarian
  • And a serious cheapskate! He remembers every not-yet-a-dime ever spent!
  • Man, this guy is funny. You sometimes have to look for it, but he’s kind of a riot.
  • The ambition, the drive, the commitment.
  • Couldn’t help but wonder what Ben would have been like in today’s world – would have been as successful? Devoted himself to which causes? Would he be an inventor? Professor? Media mogul? Politician? Would today’s society allow him the meteoric rise that he had back then?
  • Thinking about what impact he may have had on today’s leaders – comparisons between Obama and Franklin
  • Interesting to think about some of the issues that he felt strongly about still being debated today, namely the debate over immunization
  • He talked a lot about humility, but obviously had a hard time with it. If that was his worst quality? Forgiven.
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The Woman Who Wouldn’t – Gene Wilder

Yes, that Gene Wilder. How could I resist reading a book by one of my favorite comedians? (If you never saw it – “The Frisco Kid.” Netflix it, I promise.) I couldn’t resist at the library, and the subject matter seemed innocuous enough. Two people meet and fall in love at a mental asylum. Sound familiar, anyone?

Anyway, this was more of a novella, and while it didn’t hurt my brain to read like, let’s say, an Ethan Hawke literary foray – I am not entirely sure why it was written. The plot is this: Early 1900’s, violinist did some crazy things during a performance. He is sent to some sort of wellness spa in the Black Forest. He meets and befriends Anton Chekhov (who the book is dedicated to) who is suffering from consumption. He gets a thing for this Belgian woman who is dying of stomach cancer. They court. Have an awkward sex scene (awkwardness compounded by the idea that my Gene wrote the word “penis”). Against his better judgment, he falls in love. They get married. Her cancer disappears when she gets pregnant. He is still a little crazy. They leave for American. Chekhov dies. The End.

That’s it. From what I can tell, I didn’t leave anything out. There was no real subtext or mini-plots or … anything. They liked to drink wine, very cold. That was as much color as I could get out of the story. I just can’t tell why this was written or what I am supposed to do with this. Odd.

I do want to read his autobiography though. Hopefully he doesn’t mention the word “willy.”

(Yeah, I read two books yesterday. I couldn’t but the autism book down, and I knew I was going to the library today, and this book was more of a novella than a novel.)

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