In this engaging and provocative new book, Lee Eisenberg, bestselling author of The Number, dares to tackle nothing less than what it takes to find enduring meaning and purpose in life.
He explains how from a young age, each of us is compelled to take memories of events and relationships and shape them into a one-of-a-kind personal narrative. In addition to sharing his own pivotal memories (some of them moving, some just a shade embarrassing), Eisenberg presents striking research culled from psychology and neuroscience, and draws on insights from a pantheon of thinkers and great writers-Tolstoy, Freud, Joseph Campbell, Virginia Woolf, among others.
We also hear from men and women of all ages who are wrestling with the demands of work and family, ever in search of fulfillment and satisfaction.
It all adds up to a fascinating story, delightfully told, one that goes straight to the heart of how we explain ourselves to ourselves-in other words, who we are and why.
"What is the point?" Former Esquire editor-in-chief Eisenberg (The Number) tackles the big question in this memoir about writing and life. The book takes time to develop momentum, but ultimately succeeds in looping in the reader. Eisenberg's approach is discursive, trolling through history and current culture for insight. Employing the process of writing a book as an extended metaphor for creating meaning, he says that memory is "the little storywriter nestled in the fissures of your brain" whose task it is to create "the so-called chapters of your life." Self-referential in the extreme, his story of writing this story returns repeatedly, throughout its three parts, to a touchstone a graveyard the author visits to ground a wide-ranging consideration of the role of memory, the tricky "elbow" of middle age, and death, among other things. In a paragraph about reporter Richard Ben Cramer, the author manages to make reference to Vice President Joe Biden, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Laurie Anderson. The underlying question, as it was for psychiatrist Viktor Frankl (another reference point), is how we create meaning and purpose in our lives. Eisenberg's suggestion is to write a compelling life story. An appendix provides three questionnaires used by psychologists and physicians to study attitudes toward life and death. Also included is an extensive list of references.