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Not Fade Away: A Short Life Well Lived Paperback – September 14, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
"I'm hardly the first person to notice that there is only the present, constantly," writes Barton in this extraordinary memoir. "The present moment is lived, and relieved; written, and rewritten. Every previous version still inhabits it." What gives this insight and the many others that follow uncommon power is the ever present fact that Barton, a pioneering entrepreneur in the cable television industry, was dying of stomach cancer as he wrote them. Alternating chapters with mystery writer Shames (The Naked Detective), Barton, who died in September, 2002, at 51, offers us-and his wife and three children-his final rewrite of a life filled with the optimism and idealism of his generation. Barton tells us how it feels to die while the party is still raging, offering us glimpses of a life that packed in everything from being a professional ski bum to working as an aide to New York State governor Hugh Carey to huge success as a visionary businessman (Barton helped found MTV, among other achievements). Readers will be knocked out by his honesty and his utter lack of self-pity or sentimentality. The "gift" of terminal cancer, according to Barton, is that "it doesn't kill you all at once. It gives you time to set your house in order.... It gives you time to think, to sum things up." Setting his house in order included taking his family for a balloon ride at dawn. Summing up what matters, he reminds us that it is the large and small moments of pleasure and love, those very present moments, that redeem us in the end. This is a very beautiful book about how to live.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Peter Barton and Laurence Shames, the graceful writer he persuaded to help him tell this tale, have produced a worthy monument, a book about how to live, and how to die.” ―Ken Auletta
“This is a wise, funny, and intensely true book--a generous gift from an amazing guy to those of us who are so busy getting through life that we sometimes forget why we're living. Sooner or later, we'll all make the journey Peter Barton took; now, thanks to him, it doesn't look so scary.” ―Dave Barry
“A little masterpiece. . . a book to be read by everyone. . . . [It] may be the most honest book I have ever read. . . . Some of [the] phrases and sentences literally took my breath away. . . . [Not Fade Away] lit up my own mind and spirit--dare I include soul?--to consider my own life and purposes.” ―Jim Lehrer
“You couldn't know Peter Barton and not know he would face dying in the most adventurous and original way. . . . This is a book full of insight and comfort, wisdom and hope.” ―Barry Diller--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
He was an extraodinarily creative person, always able to see the context of every situation. Life rewarded him well financially but, most of all, with an uncanny sense of where we fit in the course of our lives.
This book is filled with large-scale insights, many of which will be useful to each of us. Even knowing him, I found the book a worthwhile read. I personally grew from the "read," as I'm sure you will. It may reset your values as well as your expectations regarding living.
Laurence Shames is skillful not only with words but also with conveying ideas. His book reads very well.
So, I received a recommendation to read this book from a friend of friend at a kid's birthday party on the premise that it changed the recommender's perspective on life, yada yada yada. On the bright side, I am so grateful that this book is as short as it is.
I really wanted to like it. But I just couldn't listen to this self-affirming egomaniac anymore. The opportunity to reflect on one's own life at the bitter end before an audience is a responsibility that one should approach with honesty, humility and without filter. At one point in the story, he explains that he is writing the book to do something important. This college-level collection of essays about working hard, getting into Harvard Business School, being the guy that didn't take the safe route, playing piano for Frank Sinatra, doing kick-ass double back-flips on skis into pools, etc., was so distant from what anyone would define as truly important work. It made me feel little to no sympathy for a guy that probably really suffered at the end. I didn't like him, or feel any compassion for him because he was so unlikeable. Charisma - which Peter Barton certainly had - is moving when you see it in person; this storytelling was not. I learned nothing. It could have and should have been so much more; it just wasn't.
Beyond the vapid content, the rhythm just got so predictable. The constant back-and-forth between the present and past, the first and third person, it became so formulaic and redundant. The chapter usually opens with a story, which the subject thinks makes him an awesome, one-of-a-kind, living-large hero. This is promptly followed by a clumsy transition to remind the reader of the health situation and how much it sucks to have cancer and know that you are going to die.