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May 22, 2008 - Image 115

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-05-22

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Arts & Entertainment

Modern-Day Moses

Writer Jeffrey Zaslow chronicles cancer-stricken professor's

inspiring quest to find the "promised land" of joy.

Suzanne Chessler
Special to the Jewish News

nonfiction book that has to
do with friendship.
Past newspaper and book
effrey Zaslow, like many
assignments would seem to
people around the world,
have prepared Zaslow for
regularly surfs the Web
The Last Lecture. He worked
for new information and com-
as a replacement for advice
mentary about Randy Pausch, the
columnist Ann Landers
computer science professor who
and wrote Take It From Us:
has spoken and written about his
Advice From Celebrities
celebration of life while facing
and Tell Me All About It: A
death from pancreatic cancer.
Personal Look at the Advice
Zaslow, a Wall Street Journal col-
umnist based in Michigan, wants
"From the earliest
to share his findings with Pausch,
moments of childhood,
a friend since the writer covered
I wanted to be a writer;'
the professor's farewell lecture
Zaslow says. "I grew up
for the WSJ in September 2007.
in Philadelphia and was a
Titled "Really Achieving Your
creative writing major in
Childhood Dreams:' the lecture
college. The only writing
was part of a series at Carnegie
jobs I could get were with
Mellon University delivered before
newspapers, so I became a
400 students and colleagues. The
feature writer.
speech quickly became a YouTube Professor Randy Pausch and writer Jeff Zaslow — "Even though Randy's religion is very private to him,
"I was at the Orlando
he's got a lot of Old Testament values and Jewish values that sit well with me," says Zaslow.
Sentinel before going to the
Soon after his column
Pausch's story-based messages of hon-
more personal as it discusses family and
Wall Street Journal. I went
appeared, Zaslow became co-author with
esty, integrity and gratitude were intended friends.
to the Chicago Sun Times to replace Ann
Pausch of The Last Lecture (Hyperion;
for his children as they grow; but they are
"Even though Randy's religion is
Landers, and I've been back at the Journal
$21.95), a memoir that extends the life-
being appreciated by increasing numbers
very private to him, he's got a lot of Old
for seven years!"
style messages of Pausch's far-reaching
getting to know him
Testament values and Jewish
Zaslow, whose move to Michigan came
presentation. Hyperion won the rights to
through the Internet, tele-
values that sit well with me in 1985 with his marriage, is pleased that
publish the book for a reported $6.7 mil-
vision appearances and
says Zaslow, whose family,
his daughters and their friends are read-
lion after a bidding war.
the book.
living in West Bloomfield,
ing and talking about The Last Lecture.
"Since the lecture and the book, I
"We set out to get the
belongs to Congregation
He also is pleased about being invited to
keep finding new Web sites with Randy
book done in his lifetime,
Shaarey Zedek of Oakland
speak before groups.
on them;' says Zaslow, 49, a Carnegie
and we really rushed:'
"When Randy talks about having a
Mellon graduate just slightly older than
explains Zaslow, who
"Randy says he feels like
sense of community, I think about being
Pausch, who is 47. "I could spend my time
made four visits and con-
Moses about the things he
impressed with the Detroit Jewish com-
Googling around, finding everything with
ducted 53 one-hour phone
helped create at Carnegie
munity," Zaslow says. "People here are very
Randy's name and sending it all to him.
interviews with Pausch as
Mellon, where his col-
"After I did some of that, Randy said,
the professor rode his bike
leagues will go on without
Reaction to the book has been over-
`Cut it out; go hug your kids' Even now,
to keep up his strength.
him and get into their
whelming — particularly through the
he's still giving me his input on life, and
"I spent 15-hour days
promised land.
Web site download.srv.cs.cmu.edu/
that's great. I've always been a hard worker, writing, and Randy got to
Published last month,
so that resonated with me, but the family
participate in the creation
"I hear from people whose loved ones
The Last Lecture, sitting
stuff has resonated even more?'
and edits;' says Zaslow,
sick or dying, and I wonder if I'll be
atop many bestseller
Pausch, who has surpassed the doctors' who took a leave from the
that as long as the book is out
lists, teaches about the
three- to-six months-to-live prognosis
WSJ to write the book.
says. "While the sadness can
importance of seizing
handed to him in August 2007, told his
Zaslow, husband of
feel gratified that readers
every moment.
university audience about his lifelong
FOX-2 TV newscaster
trouble in the future. Randy
have been moved by Randy's story and
quest to find joy in every day and the
Sherry Margolis and father
has accepted that and is
want to share their own?' ❑
positive in every person. He decided to
of three daughters, says that the lecture is
helping his family accept that?'
devote just one hour a day to the book so
more about Pausch's work life, colleagues
Zaslow, who considers The Last Lecture
he could give most of his attention to his
and students, urging them to go on and
both once-in-a-lifetime achievement and
To hear Randy Pausch's lecture, go
wife, Jai, and their three young children.
do great things without him. The book is
bittersweet success, is working on another
to www.thelastlecture.com .


May 22 • 2008


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