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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

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Visible Empire
Hannah Pittard
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Robertson Davies
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The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch, Jeffrey Zaslow Courtesy of The Literary Snob.Sometimes in our world, it is easy to become apathetic to diagnoses involving the demise of celebrities. After all, it was nearly 20 years ago that Magic Johnson announced he was HIV-positive and retired from basketball; he still looks great. So when I began reading The Last Lecture, I admit I had some doubts. Granted, Randy Pausch is not a traditional celebrity, but he has become quite the Internet icon in recent times. Within the first chapters, Pausch states that doctors gave him 6 months to live. Yet, there I was, nearly a year after the diagnosis, reading the book that the entire nation seemed to have their noses in. Of course I became curious, so I looked on the Internet to find out about Pausch's current condition. How humbling it was to find out that he had died the day before I began reading his book.There is some hesitance on my part in providing an honest review of a book written by an individual who very recently lost a battle with pancreatic cancer. Is it somehow insulting to his family or to his memory? Especially since these are his last words—a letter to his wife and children? Although I feel I am somehow stepping into a room of unsophisticated schmucks by doing so, I assure you that my opinion of this book is shaped entirely by its merits and demerits and not by my conscience.After an introduction into Pausch's condition and life situations, The Last Lecture read like a series of proverbs. They were short and to the point. Although many of them were enveloped in commonsense, Pausch excellently weaved in stories and images that were memorable. Pausch reminds us what is important in life, an endeavor which he excels at. The examples he gives from his own life are inspiring and useful. I can imagine a whole generation heeding his advice, letting children paint their own bedroom and pouring soda in the backseat of a new car to make a point. Even if the masses think these steps too radical, I believe Pausch would be ecstatic to see one person take a similar approach to life.Pausch's personal stories are also The Last Lecture's lowest points. Pausch knew he had a unique view in life, and this often makes him sound arrogant. Further, much of his proverbial wisdom is reserved for a higher class than his average reader. The average person cannot, unfortunately, afford to walk around with $200 in their wallet and be able to quit their jobs because they have a terminal illness. If I were in a similar morbid situation as Pausch was, I believe I would feel more depressed and inadequate after reading The Last Lecture, knowing what I should do, but being powerless to make it happen.In the end, I felt that this book was not worth all the hype. It was inspiring, but it was equally a tiresome read. The Last Lecture is an intimate 224-page letter ultimately meant for a dying man's children. That being said, if I were one of Pausch's children, I believe that I would hang on every word in this book, find value in every mark—for all the days of my life. And it is in such a power that The Last Lecture becomes so incredibly valuable.