Sunday, March 06, 2011

Paul and Me

Well, I read this book pretty quickly. Paul and Me: 53 Years of Adventures and Misadventures with my Pal, Paul Newman by A.E. Hotchner is exactly what the title says. It's not a Paul Newman biography but a  collection of moments from Paul and Hotchner's 53-year friendship. In the beginning, he recalls their love for fishing, even though they never caught anything and their boat was always on the verge of sinking. With a boat named Caca del Toro (and subsequent boats referred to as Caca II, III, and IV), I knew I'd like this book.

Paul and "Hotch" seemed to have fun with everything they did and never took anything too seriously, but the results were always solid. Paul had an amazing amount of luck and things seemed to happen on whims, as if he just woke up one day with random impossible ideas that came to fruition with relative ease. A good chunk of the book is devoted to their business venture into Newman's Own--from stirring the first batch of salad dressing in Paul's barn using a canoe paddle to convincing everyone that the first Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for seriously ill children could be built in a year's time. Paul's unwavering character--his infectious joy, thoughtfulness, and steady determination--come through on each page. "Paul Newman was an unadorned man. We was direct and honest and off-center and mischievous and romantic and very handsome," Hotchner writes. "He was the same man in 2008 that he was in 1955, unchanged despite all the honors and the fame, not a whisper of a change. That was something--the constancy of the man."

Years ago, I read the book Paul and Hotch wrote together called Shameless Exploitation in the Pursuit of the Common Good, which chronicles the haphazard creation of Newman's Own and its unexpected success. (One of my favorite books, I also highly recommend it.) Reading the letters and testimonials from the parents and kids who find refuge in the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps will touch anyone's heart. Paul and Me does the same. In the end, both books make me wish Paul Newman was still around.

Here's a scene from The Verdict, which I think is first movie of Paul's that I ever saw. It might make you fall in love too.
Frank Galvin's summation in The Verdict © 20th Century Fox

I'll pick a new book soon, but for now, I like having Paul Newman's picture on my blog. I hope he doesn't mind.


Kim said...

you've inspired me to read this ;) i've always wanted to learn more about his life, but haven't ever taken the time. i'll have to carve some out.

Melissa Connolly said...

Yay! 10 pages a night seems to work well for me...for about two days. (This book had short "chapters," which helped. But, by the weekend, the book took over and I lost all track of the time and tasks. You probably won't have that problem, though. :-)