Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Pursuit of Happyness

The Pursuit of Happyness
The Life Story that Inspired the Major Motion Picture
by Chris Gardner (Amistad, 2006)

I did not see the movie. I will. It'll be better than the book.

Although this memoir was engaging, the storyline was probably better served as a feature film which focused, I understand, on Chris Gardner's grit and determination in overcoming the obstacles of family breakup, job loss, homelessness, caring for his son, inevitable racial barriers, and of course new career challenges as a stock broker.

The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review pronounces: "The quintessential rags-to-riches American dream story - amazing and inspirational." And it is. It's just that the first half of the story drags. Gardner spends too much time on his childhood - and not an exceptionally interesting one at that. Except for the retelling of some classic and hilarious boyhood antics that reveal an ornery streak that sets the stage for adulthood triumph, I kept wanting Gardner to get to the good part.

He does eventually. But has to drop about a thousand F-bombs along the way. Some poignant truths, but unfortunately Gardner's personality is off-putting just enough that I never felt compelled to care deeply about his struggle. But then, I am white. I've never been homeless. I come from an intact, nuclear family. His story is not mine. Yet I admire his determination.

So although I've read better memoirs, The Pursuit of Happyness delivers. Gardner finally did get to the "good part" - he's now the CEO of Gardner Rich & Company. And I doubt very much if he cares whether I liked his book.

By the way, for a happenstance taxi interview with Chris Gardner in 2000 in Chicago, watch this You Tube Video. (F-bomb alert.) If you like what you see here, you'll like his book.

UPDATE April: Found another good review of this book by M.B. Levine.

No comments: