Having the write stuff comes earlier and earlier
By PAT CASHMAN
Bellevue Reporter Columnist
June 2, 2008 · Updated 1:10 PM
Dr. Michael DeBakey, the renowned heart surgeon, received the Congressional Medal of Honor recently. Hes going to be 100 this year, so apparently somebody figured they better get to it.
You might think that a career as robust and accomplished as Dr. DeBakeys would be chronicled in a massive memoir either a hefty biography (a life story written by someone else) or an autobiography (one written in a car).
Surely a towering figure like him, who has just received the countrys highest civilian honor, would have found time to write about himself during his nearly century of life. But, in fact, you wont find any such book about DeBakey only a so-called online digital document that somebody else wrote. Digital documents are like books, but dont carry the high risk of paper cuts.
The digital DeBakey life story is just 902 words long about nine words for each year of his life. And thats all. DeBakey did once write a book called The Living Heart, but it wasnt about him. It was about how the heart works. Go figure.
I thought about this the other day when I saw a newspaper story about a public figure who is about to write a memoir: Miley Cyrus. You may not have heard of her (Miley being a girls name) if you were born earlier than, say, the 1990s. She stars in the Disney Channel series Hannah Montana, which up until recently I thought was a town just outside of Billings.
Ms. Cyrus signed a book deal a few days ago to tell the story of her life, and it wont be a measly digital version like Dr. DeBakeys document. Itll be an honest-to-gosh, hardbound book, just like the kind Hemingway used to write so Ernestly. I dont how many actual words will be in Miley Cyruss memoir, but Ill bet it will be more than 902 and maybe twice as many syllables. By the way, did I mention that Miley Cyrus is 15 years old?
Now some people certainly not me may think its a little silly for someone just 15 years old to write a memoir. On the other hand, maybe its smart to do it while the memories are easier to recall and not so much has happened yet.
Mileys dad is Billy Ray Cyrus, who once had a big country hit called Achy, Breaky Heart, which I guess ties this essay back to Dr. DeBakey in an accidental way.
In all honesty, I guess Im mostly envious of Miley Cyrus. Face it, even at just 15 years old, shes had a life interesting and worthy enough to convince the people at Hyperion Books to publish her memoir. Truth be told, I tried writing a memoir of my own when I was 15, and I couldnt get even a nibble from a publisher. Heres an excerpt:
Woke up this morning with a zit the size of a Volkswagen on the end of my nose. A red Volkswagen. With three flat tires.
My sea monkeys finally arrived yesterday. They dont look anything like real monkeys. I think the same company that I bought those lousy x-ray specs from has snookered me again. Im really having second thoughts about ordering those alligator eggs.
If I can make it through today, Ill have achieved a personal best: Six days wearing the same underpants. Eight days is my goal. Dont know if Ill make it before mom begins to notice, but even she says I should try to follow my dreams.
Gonna drop by Daves house after school. He found a Playboy in a dumpster, so we thought wed look at that for a while. If theres time afterward, we might study for tomorrows math exam.
I am going to wrap this up for tonight. Dad is yelling at me from upstairs to turn off my light and go to sleep. So thats it for now.
Have turned light back on. I was just startled out of my sleep by a scratching noise coming from my closet. Im 95 percent sure there is a killer hiding in there. No, wait! The scratching noise is actually coming from the next room, where my little brother sleeps. Whew! Now I can go back to sleep.
My granddaughter turns one year old next month. Shell start speaking her first words any day now, and as soon as does, she and I will sit down to start work on her memoir. Itd be nice to get it in the stores by Christmas.Contact Bellevue Reporter Columnist Pat Cashman at email@example.com.