TUPELO – A touching but humorous review of “Tuesdays with Morrie” by businessman Jack Reed Sr. kicked off the city’s month-long program based on the popular piece of nonfiction.
Seated before roughly 150 people at the Lee County Library on Wednesday, Reed praised the novel for its moving narrative about a dying college professor and his former student.
In the book, author Mitch Albom describes his weekly visits with favorite former professor Morrie Schwartz as Schwartz suffered the final ravages of ALS. The two spent each Tuesday together, with Schwartz talking about how facing death taught him to appreciate life.
“Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live,” Reed quoted from the book, hitting on a recurring theme in the 1997 New York Times Bestseller.
“Many young readers might find this book sad, that Morrie’s a victim,” Reed said. “But I find it inspiring, that it’s a victory over death.”
Reed joked he earned his invitation to review the novel because he, himself, is “old and crippled.” Now in his late 80s, the former political candidate and father of Mayor Jack Reed Jr. walks with a cane and a slight hunch.
His remark elicited laughter from the audience of mostly older residents. A majority had raised their hands when Reed asked whether they’d read the book.
All residents were encouraged to read “Tuesdays with Morrie” when the city announced its literacy program in May. It’s called “Tupelo Reads: We’re All on the Same Page,” and it features a series of mostly free events to spur conversation about the book.
Reed’s book review kicked off the series this week. It resumes Sept. 11 with a free lecture at the library by Vanderbilt University Centennial philosophy professor John Lachs.
Other book-related events include a free panel discussion called “Facing the Future with Dignity and Grace,” a free student art exhibit at the GumTree Museum of Art; a free showing of the movie based on the book and a Tupelo Community Theater production of “Tuesdays with Morrie.”
Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal