Friday, June 24, 2011

Unfinished Business by Lee Kravitz

A few years ago I did an early review on a memoir very similar to this one.  Do-over was the author's take on 10 separate incidents in his life that he did poorly, and in the memoir he did his best to recreate the scene and do it all over.  I found the narrative to be entertaining because it was a childhood memoir combined with a stunt memoir.  It worked on both levels for me.

Unfinished Business follows a year in the life of Lee Kravitz, a work-a-holic editor who finds himself without a job.   While he is trying to get his life together, he makes a list of 10 things that he should have done that he never did and sets about to right a bunch of (mostly social) wrongs from his past.

The book started off with a bang.  The voice held my interest, the story seemed enough different from Do over, and I began reading quickly.   Now that I am finally finished after two weeks, my honest reaction is that it was a very good effort, but it felt like it would have better filled 10 short essays for Sojourners magazine rather than one long memoir.  Mr. Kravitz would introduce the piece of unfinished business, describe how he finished it, and then was philosophically about it for 20 pages.  In a nutshell, taking care of all his unfinished business:  writing a condolence card, eulogizing his grandmother, paying an old debt, finding a long lost friend, changed him for the better.

The two chapters I found most interesting were the first, where he sets out to find a favorite and long lost aunt who has been locked away in an institution for many years and the second to last where he uses his reporters research skills to corroborate a family story that involved Eliot Ness and bootleggers in his hometown of Cleveland.

This paperback version of the book comes complete with your own guide to unfinished business.  How do you right some of the wrongs that you committed when you were young? Seems cheaper than therapy.

No comments: