“Tuesdays with Morrie” Author Brings Latest Book to Spa City
SARATOGA SPRINGS – He could have stopped decades ago and his place in several halls of fame would be assured. From the sports world to the otherworld, the walk-off hits keep coming for Mitch Albom.
Award-winning sportswriter. Best-selling author. Charitable foundation founder. Any one of these labels would constitute a lifetime well-lived. And yet each, standing alone, is almost damning with faint praise when you assess his career.
He is, after all, a writer. So this is one lede you don’t want to bury. Here’s the story:
Q: When is the author of the best-selling memoir of all time coming to Saratoga Springs?
A: Next Friday, November 15 at the Holiday Inn ballroom
Northshire Bookstore has scored another plum as, in conjunction with WAMC (which will tape the event for later broadcasts throughout the NPR globe) welcomes Mitch Albom on the occasion of publishing his latest foray into storytelling, The first phone call from heaven.
After penning several well-regarded sports books and columns, Albom achieved his breakout in 1997 with the publication of Tuesdays with Morrie, a runaway best-seller and movie that happened by an accidental viewing of Morrie Schwartz, Albom’s Brandeis professor who he had not seen in 16 years, on an ABC Nightline episode in which Schwartz talked about his struggles with ALS – “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” Their reunion, and the lessons that Albom learned from Schwartz during their visits on Tuesday’s until Morrie’s eventual passing imparted lifelong lessons that have proven to be inspirational to millions.
Tuesdays was followed by smash after smash. The Five People you Meet in Heaven was Albom’s first venture into afterlife concepts, which forms the structure for his latest release.
The first phone call takes place in Coldwater, a small town near Lake Michigan, in which the townspeople are suddenly the objects of worldwide interest when townspeople reportedly start receiving calls from heaven-dwellers. As a mania extends, first throughout, then far beyond the village’s boarders, it becomes a pilgrimage destination for cell-phone toting believers hoping for a ring from the afterlife.
“I found a small-town setting to be more realistic to have a small town transform quickly than a big city locale.” Albom said. “The town in its own way became a character.”
Reached at his home in Detroit, Albom describes the saga of main character Sully Harding, a former pilot returning home from prison after his wrongful conviction for the death of his wife. Harding makes it his one-man mission to debunk the myth.
“He’s bitter because of his life circumstances,” Albom notes. “Plus, he’s got to deal with his 7-year-old son carrying around a toy phone asking when mommy’s going to call.”
Myth or miracle? Charade or communications breakthrough? Don’t be surprised if you change your mind a few times as you navigate the pages.
Albom, as you can imagine, keeps himself busy. This is his first visit to Saratoga Springs as one stop on a three-week, 20 city U.S. tour, in addition to media promotions to promote the new book.
“I love these tours,” Albom said. “Not only do I get to see new places, but as you know writing can be a solitary practice. I’m proud to say that my books inspire people to share their own personal stories. It’s very gratifying.”
In addition, Albom keeps up a regular sports column, as well as routine appearances on ESPN staples such as The Sports Reporters.
“I don’t think I’ll ever give up deadline journalism.” He said. “It exercises different ‘mental muscles’ like cross-training your brain.”
The result is a stronger product no matter what the vehicle is.
I asked him, relatives aside, who he wanted his first phone call from heaven from. He didn’t hesitate, but you could hear him get emotional in relaying his response:
“It would have to be from Morrie,” Albom said. “He never got to see the book.”
And all that came after.
“I’d just ask him: How am I doing?”
Northshire Bookstore Presents
Off the Shelf with Mitch Albom
“The first phone call from heaven”
Friday, November 15 at 7:30 pm
Holiday Inn Saratoga,
232 Broadway, Saratoga Springs
Tickets: $32.50 - $40 include book