While I’m almost always at the farm with other folks, it seems I rarely work alongside anyone, or when I do it’s by loud machinery. It makes for a lot of alone time.
A book I finished recently was We Know How this Ends. It follows the ALS journey of Bruce Kramer and his quest to live while he was dying. You might have heard excerpts of it on Minnesota Public Radio as the book is based on a series of interviews with Kramer with journalist Cathy Wurzer.
These radio essays are poignant, moving and surprising rousing and inspirational given the subject matter — you can listen to them here. I would be gathering eggs with a lump in my throat (though I’m rather a softie).
Given that I’d heard most of these broadcasts, I didn’t know if I “needed” to read the book. I’m so glad I picked it up at the library. If I hadn’t, I would have missed Cathy Wurzer’s personal story, which parallels Kramer’s through the book. While Wurzer was not terminally ill, she was experiencing deaths of her own — her father’s and that of her longtime marriage.
The project is set up with alternating voices, Wurzer in one font and Kramer in another. This visual cue helps readers know who is talking, but honestly their styles are very different. Kramer has a literary voice filled with beautiful metaphors circling around big ideas, while Wurzer’s tone is more conversational, highly accessible and my personal preference.
When I first started this book, I found myself reading with tears streaking down my face. I tweeted it out.
Wurzer responded with this — and she was right.
Full disclosure: I met Cathy Wurzer once, when her Tales of the Road, Highway 61 book came out. I was nervous because I heard her voice every morning — what if she wasn’t as kind in person? Turns out she was completely gracious, talking to every person in Barnes & Noble who wanted to chat her up.
What it cracked up to be: It made me weep, laugh and think.