Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Today we're stepping back from the usual madness and mayhem to pay tribute to a budding young writer who will be coming to a bookstore near you, sometime next summer.
My dear husband, Mr. J, is better known as Mark Kram Jr. Over the weekend he finished writing his first full-length book. The book was commissioned by St. Martin's Press. It is titled Like Any Normal Day. Trust me, you will know when it goes up for sale. I'll even be able to get you a signed copy if you want it.
Mark wrote this book while working his day job as a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, and also while contributing a monthly column to the South African equivalent of Sports Illustrated. In other words, he can't sit down, because he worked his butt off.
Not only was the work load daunting, but the subject matter of Like Any Normal Day was also very emotionally wrenching. The book tells a true story of a young athlete who became quadriplegic in the blink of an eye during a high school football game. At age 16 he could no longer move any part of his body except his head. After living more than 20 years like that, trying every miracle cure from Lourdes to Pat Robertson, he finally persuaded his brother to take him to Michigan, where he committed assisted suicide with the help of Jack Kevorkian.
The magic of my husband's work on this story is that Mark never passes judgment on the athlete, or his family, or his friends -- and Kevorkian just simply damns himself with his own words. This is not the story of how it is to be a quadriplegic, it's the story of one man's life and one man's decisions. It is left to the reader to judge the man's motives, to judge how he lived his life and why he chose to die.
Many people who choose writing for a career have a sort of natural proclivity for it. For my husband, it was the "family business" (hence the "Junior"). Writing has always been a tough row to hoe for Mark, but he has turned out consistently fine work. He has so many awards we don't have any place to hang the plaques. But this book was a Labor of Hercules that not only required sensitive writing but also demanded that Mark interview at length many people who were devastated by the athlete's suffering and his decision. He tackled and completed this difficult book without falling to pieces. I can't say I could have done the same.
At the moment when Mark Kram Jr. struck the final sentence of Like Any Normal Day, I was walking into a Barnes & Noble store to pick up some summer reading. It occurred to me that next summer (hopefully) the "New Arrival" table will have my husband's book on it.
Let's give a warm, wonderful "Gods Are Bored" huzzah for Mark Kram, Jr. No one will read this book with a dry eye.