Friday, August 14, 2009
An Hour to Live, An Hour to Love by Richard and Kristine Carlson
An Hour to Live, An Hour to Love: The True Story of the Best Gift Ever Given by Richard Carlson and Kristine Carlson is one of those schmaltzy sentimental slender books meant to inspire and leave the reader feeling deeply touched. If you liked Tuesdays With Morrie or just like the genre of tomes designed to tap into the heartstrings, then this book will probably touch you in some way. Early in the book, Richard Carlson, more famous for his Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff series than he will be for this book, mentions Stephen Levine. What Carlson goes on to write is a very personal letter to his wife, the sort of letter that I am sure touched her and their daughters very close to their hearts but I felt uncomfortable reading something he intended as a gift to his wife. What’s more, the most relevant piece of the text was exactly that one small section taken directly from the more profound teachings of Stephen Levine. The three questions asked in the letter are handled on such a personal level which is why the way they are handled is hardly profound. If you want profundity, read Levine or write your own truths. This book, while lovely, is more for die hard fans of Carlson’s works but I wish his wife had kept this personal letter between the two of them. If she feels a need to share her own life, her own truths, she seems to have the ability to write well enough, as evidenced by the second part of the book, to do so. And if this is meant to be a text that shares how one woman copes with her grief and loss, I recommend the reader turn to Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking which is a more brutally honest exploration of grief than this pretty little book attempts to be. There is an audience for this type of book, obviously. I am not it, even more obviously.