Famed writer Mitch Albom enchants viewers at Frauenthal

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– PHOTOS BY JEANNE VOLLMER

By Cynthia Price

The book that Mitch Albom came to Muskegon on Nov. 10 to promote, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven, debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list.
And that was the seventh time he had topped the prestigious list.

The author’s break-out book, which he wrote in 1997, was the well-loved Tuesdays with Morrie. The Morrie of the title was a former professor of Albom’s who was dying of ALS (also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Remembering that the professor, Morrie Schwartz, had been an inspiration to him when he was in college at Brandeis University, Albom began to visit him every Tuesday. He recorded Schwartz’s wisdom and the conversations they had, the book was much more of a success than Albom expected, and the rest is history.

Thirty-nine million sold books later, Albom came to the Frauenthal and talked and read effortlessly, promoting the new book which is a sequel to his first fiction work, The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

That book was about Eddie, a carnival worker who dies himself when he saves the life of a young girl, Annie. Albom said that over the years, he has been asked over and over what happened to Annie, and what comes next in heaven, so he decided to write an answer.

A New Jersey native, Albom came to Detroit to write a sports column when the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press combined for a weekend edition, and stayed. He said at the Frauenthal appearance that  His stint there resulted in many awards. Albom actually went into journalism only after attempts to establish a music career were unsuccessful. And he wrote Tuesdays with Morrie in order to make some money to help his old mentor pay his medical bills and help Schwartz’s family out after his death.

For such a successful writer, Albom is incredibly unassuming. In an interview with Foley Schuler at Blue Lake Radio, he tells the touching story of someone who approached him just a few nights before. The man, who appeared to be in his thirties, said that in the trunk of his car he kept a folding chair and a copy of Tuesdays with Morrie. He told Albom that he would go to his wife’s grave and read to her from the book, ten or so pages at a time. Albom seemed to take as much pleasure in that man’s story as a new writer would.

To hear the interview, visit http://bluelake.ncats.net/ondemand.pl

Albom himself has just gone through several losses, including his mother, father, and a young girl he and his wife cared for who was from Haiti. But, he said, everyone has to struggle with loss, and it is the cracks in the heart that allow the light to shine through.

 

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