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Review: “A Good Man” by Mark K. Shriver

A GOOD MAN: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver, by Mark K. Shriver
Henry Holt and Company (2012)

Review by Rosemary Anderson

You would only be partly mistaken if you assumed, from the title of this book, that it’s a feel-good biography, for it is both less and more. A Good Man is Mark Shriver’s moving tribute to his famous father, Sargent Shriver, whom he loses twice: first to Alzheimer’s, then to death itself.

“Sarge” was blissfully married to Eunice Kennedy Shriver for fifty-six years, and raised five children. With his brother-in-law, President John F. Kennedy, he started the Peace Corps. He founded and led numerous national programs, served as U.S. ambassador to France, and ran for the presidency. Yet every day he made time for his family and his faith. For his children, the pressure of growing up in the hypercompetitive Kennedy clan was intense, but Sargent Shriver’s daily example helped them navigate the maelstrom of expectation, ambition, and accomplishment. At his core, as people said over and over again at his funeral, he was “a good man.” The phrase was repeated so often that Mark Shriver felt compelled to dig deeper, to expose the roots of this goodness.

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Review: “Human Happiness” by Brian Fawcett

Human Happiness by Brian Fawcett
Thomas Allen Publishers (2011)

Review by Jennifer Spruit

Brain Fawcett’s parents are as completely ordinary as they are hilarious. In this memoir, he presents them with unflinching honesty and aggressive wit. The book opens with his mother’s declaration of hatred for his father, despite their having been married for over half a century. His elderly father is described as “mowing the grass at high speeds on his sit-down mower, planting exotic roses and spraying them with poisonous chemicals.” Plus, he speaks in Capital Letters:

“Your Future,” my father said. He turned his gaze to Ron. “And yours. And mine. Most of all, the Future of This Company, and all the Thousands of Dollars it can put in Your Pockets.”

He swept his hands wide. “Not to mention the Joys of Accomplishment.”

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An Interview with Writer, Director, Actor and Teacher Marilyn Norry

Marilyn Norry

By Tariq Hussain

Marilyn Norry has 30 years’ experience in Canadian film and theatre. Not only is she a Jessie Award-winning actress, she is also a writer, teacher, director and producer. She has been a dramaturg at Playwright’s Theatre Centre in Vancouver since 1996, was a story editor on the television series Madison, played a continuing role on Battlestar Galactica and is the creator of My Mother’s Story, a project of plays and books dedicated to telling women’s history one mother at a time. For more information about the project, and for some beautiful stories, check out their website.

Marilyn will be speaking at the upcoming Write! Vancouver Festival, which takes place on May 26th, 2012. For more information visit: www.writevancouver.com.

Tariq Hussain: First of all, I’m amazed by all the many “roles” you have in the arts such as writer, actor, director, teacher—is there a role that you feel most comfortable in or are they all connected for you?

Marilyn Norry: I don’t know if I move from one thing to the next because I get bored or if it’s economic necessity. Sometimes it’s just curiosity.

TH: One of your many roles is being a “teacher” and you’ll be presenting a workshop at the Write! Vancouver Festival this month called “Telling Mom’s Story.” What have you got have planned for this workshop?

MN: With memoir writing, people are overwhelmed by the amount of things they could put down and they don’t know how to start. I encourage people to get the big picture of their mother’s life first because then they can figure out what they want to focus in on. Part of the exercise I’m encouraging everyone to do is to force themselves to think: “Okay, what was the beginning? What do I remember next and what happened after that?” We never do it. We’ve got memories scattered all over our brains and it’s a real process to just sit down and write it all out.

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