As Greene describes Roth, I am reminded of a lyric from the musical, "Show Boat" about a man named Bill: " an ordinary guy; he hasn't got a thing that I can brag about." Except in this case, this ordinary man is a friend of Bob Greene, Chuck Shenk, Danny Dick and Allen Schulman. Their bond is something all of them regard as greater than their careers. They even created an abbreviation for their friendship from the first letters of their first names: ABCDJ.
Remember what innocence once looked like? You'll rediscover it in Greene's book. It is sweet. It is wholesome. It is, or ought to be, a place every grown man should try to visit at least once more during his life.
The tenderness the four display toward Jack reflects behavior and attitude we associate almost exclusively with women. But male emotions are felt and expressed differently and Greene taps into them in a wonderful way. When Chuck cries as he visits his dying friend, he is never manlier.
As Jack tours Bexley with his friends, recalling favorite places - some of which have ceased to exist physically, but are embedded in memory - Greene writes of him, "He was tasting his life. He was savoring who he was, and where he had been, who he had known . he was tasting it with a fierce and pervading kind of appetite. It wasn't nostalgia; this was much more profound than that, this, in my eyes, was something that bordered on holy."
What brought me to tears after living their lives with them through Greene's recollections was his description of Jack's funeral, which their kindergarten teacher, "Miss Barbara," attended. Greene told me when he sent her the manuscript, she cried.
Anyone looking for a perfect Father's Day gift should get "And You Know You Should Be Glad." I have rarely been touched as deeply by a modern work. Even women will love this book. But guys, this one's primarily for you. When you've finished it, I know you will be glad.