Comedian Jerry Lewis died this morning at age 91. I never thought he was very funny, although I do think his care for children with muscular dystrophy was authentic, if not misguided. I recall reports about discrepancies between money pledged and money collected, and then, questions about how much money actually went for the cause for which it was raised. And, I remember reports that the muscular dystrophy community thought that the campaign revolved more around pity than anything else. Remember – it was called “jerry’s Kids.”
Since this is a book blog, in searching through Amazon.com, there are surprisingly few books about him. And, don’t get confused – there are more books about Jerry Lee Lewis, and that is not the same person.
But, there are a few. Here is information about two of them.
More books about Lewis exist about his relationship with Dean Martin, and the two of them made hit films for more than ten years. He wrote one himself, Dean and Me (A Love Story), with James Kaplan (Three Rivers Press, 2006). If you peruse through the different Amazon. com listings, you will find several books about their relationship, and I remember at least one made for television movie focusing upon it. This one is probably the most interesting, however, because it came from Lewis himself. Whether accurate or not, the cover claims it is a New York Times bestseller.
His own autobiography, Jerry Lewis: In Person, was published with Herb Gluck in 1982 (Atheneum). Likely due to his death today, sales of that book have spiked, and tonight stand in the top 100 of two Amazon.com best-selling categories.
Personally, I only had peripheral involvement. In 1975, the Texas DeMolay Association sponsored a year-long campaign to raise funds for his MD telethon. I was in my first year as an adult advisor at the time. We sent the top fund-raiser, Gary Whitley from Grand Prairie Chapter, to the national telecast in Las Vegas to present Lewis the check. I doubt Lewis had ever heard of DeMolay, but accepted the check live on the air with gratitude.
Again, I don’t think he was funny. And, at best, he was a mediocre interviewer and show host. But, obviously, enough people saw him differently to support a very successful career.
We have presented very few books about the brain at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas. Yet, the business world remains fascinated with it.
You are familiar with old-fashioned, yet highly understandable conceptions, such as “left-brain logical” and “right-brain creative.” And, you likely remember the book published in 1998, Time Management for the Creative Person: Right-Brain Strategies for Stopping Procrastination, Getting Control of the Clock and Calendar, and Freeing Up Your Time and Your Life by Lee Silber (Three Rivers Press).
So, even though there is no chance that we will present a synopsis of this book at our monthly event, I thought our blog readers would be interested in the newest work on this subject. On February 3, 2015, Michael S. Gazzaniga published Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience (Ecco/Harper Collins).
First, who is Michael S. Gazzaniga? Here is his biography from the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB):
Michael Gazzaniga is Director of the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind at UCSB. He is the president of the Cognitive Neuroscience Institute, the founding director of the MacArthur Foundation’s Law and Neuroscience Project and the Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience, and a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Academy of Sciences. He received a Ph.D. in Psychobiology from the California Institute of Technology, where he worked under the guidance of Roger Sperry, with primary responsibility for initiating human split-brain research. He subsequently made remarkable advances in our understanding of functional lateralization in the brain and how the cerebral hemispheres communicate with one another. He has published many books accessible to a lay audience which, along with his participation in the public television series The Brain and The Mind, have been instrumental in making information about brain function generally accessible.
Second, what does this book accomplish? From the Blackstone Library web site, I found this review:
This book tells the impassioned story of his life in science and his decades-long journey to understand how the separate spheres of our brains communicate and miscommunicate with their separate agendas. By turns humorous and moving, Tales from Both Sides of the Brain interweaves Gazzaniga’s scientific achievements with his reflections on the challenges and thrills of working as a scientist. In his engaging and accessible style, he paints a vivid portrait not only of his discovery of split-brain theory, but also of his comrades in arms—the many patients, friends, and family who have accompanied him on this wild ride of intellectual discovery.
On February 24, 2015, Sally Satel reviewed the book in the Wall Street Journal. You can click here to read her commentary. She ends her review with this touching note:
Tales From Both Sides of the Brain will be cataloged as scientific autobiography, and that it surely is. But it is as much a book about gratitude—for the chance to study a subject as endlessly fascinating as the brain, for the author’s brilliant colleagues and, mostly, for the patients who taught him, and the world, so much.
Since it is not a best-seller, it does not qualify for one of our books that we present. But, if you have followed the evolution of this topic over the years, this book appears to be worth your time.