Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love: the Nonfiction Kind

It has been many years since I read Max Apple's laugh-out-loud book, Roommates: My Grandfather's Story (Warner Books, 1994), but the memory of it lingers. Mr. Apple taught at Rice University here in Houston. It is an uncommon love story about a grandfather (Rocky Goodstein), who everyone and anyone would say is "a character" and his grandson (Max) who live together most of their lives, even when Max attends graduate school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Although Rocky does not approve of Max's choice of a wife, he continues to live under their roof. Max and Debby have two children, and Rocky becomes a great grandfather. Rocky gets no less difficult, crusty and grumbly, but you have to love him anyway. When Max's wife dies of multiple sclerosis while their children are still young, it was Rocky who at age 102, truly kept the family going. He lived to be 107. I have a vague memory of seeing the Hollywood version of this book with Peter Falk playing Rocky. Roommates is a book I'd like to read again.

Another nonfiction love tale I was tickled by is The Ballad of Gussie and Clyde: a True Story of True Love (Villard, 1997) by Aaron Latham, known to many as the journalist who wrote the article that inspired the movie "Urban Cowboy" (he also co-wrote the script). How 84 year-old widower Clyde Latham, Aaron's father, found love again with 81 year-old Gussie Lancaster is a feel-good biography set in the West Texas town of Spur. Gussie and Clyde were childhood sweethearts. Some sixty years pass before the widower and widow reunite. As you can tell from the title, the outcome is a happy one, proving one of my personal favorite maxims: it is never too late to fall in love!

photo: Thinking of You by KAO

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