Friday, February 10, 2017

Rainbows Come and Go

Anderson Cooper’s book Dispatches From the Edge was so interesting I had to take notes. I wasn’t  doing much blogging at the time I read that book, so I just filed my notes.

I learned in November that Cooper had another book published in cooperation with his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. The Rainbow Comes and Goes, A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss was published in 2016. I read it and decided it was good, so here is my
blog about both books.
I enjoyed it, but personally preferred his first book. I might be prejudiced, since I was a journalist although I was never in the same league. However, I could understand some of what he was talking about and his feelings. Both books are well worth the reading, but I will start with my favorite.

My notes stated that I found Dispatches From the Edge very moving. “The world has many edges and it’s very easy to fall off. Keep moving in order to live. Keep cool, stay alive.”

Cooper had been a journalist for 15 years when he wrote that. He had covered wars in many areas, including Sarajevo, Baghdad, Soweto, South Africa. He wrote: “Every war is different, every war the same,” and “I set up barriers in my head, my heart, but blood flows right through them…”

After covering wars and disasters throughout the world, he found Katrina harder because it was home, in the USA. This shouldn’t happen here.  He mentioned seeing bodies left on the streets, tied to lampposts. They were people, not just bodies or corpses, he wrote.

He questioned the lack of planning and lack of quick response, as well as the question of race. I was in New Orleans this past year and as we drove past the Astrodome, those questions came back to me. I hope they are being addressed. New Orleans is a beautiful and exciting city.

“In the midst of tragedy the memories of moments, forgotten feelings, began to feed off one another. I came to see how woven together these disparate fragments really are: past and present, personal and professional, they shift back and forth, again and again.” Writing about the Day of the Dead, he says “There is so much laughter, even in the midst of all the loss. It’s the way it should be – no distance between the living and the dead. Their stories are remembered, their spirits embraced.”?

Interspersed with his stories are questions about family and fears. Cooper was constantly moving, filling the hours, “feeling but not feeling.”

Glad he was a Cooper and not a Vanderbilt, he let few people know who his mother was during his early career. His father died when he was 10 and later he lost his brother.  How these early personal events affected him is revealed in this new book, The Rainbow Comes and Goes.

The lovely title comes from a poem by William Wordsworth. It was quoted by Gloria Vanderbilt when discussing how her life had so many ups and downs. Approaching 92 years old when this book was being written, she said that she looks for and appreciates the rainbow times.

 The mother and son, who had not shared much personal information in the past, started communicating more on her 91st birthday. This changed their relationship and bought them closer together.

The book cover says that this is a revealing glimpse into their lives. Yes, it was. Sometimes, I felt like I was eavesdropping on a private conversation. I was a little confused at the beginning of the book, as the conversation goes back and forth, without any he said or she said. But soon I was able to easily tell who was speaking.

Mother and son talked about her childhood and the famous custody case. She was referred to during that time as the “Poor Little Rich Girl.” They discussed their mistakes, successes and losses.

They talked about how they were alike and yet so different.

“We like to think we are our own people, but sometimes it seems we are just playing out a script that was imprinted in us long ago.”

 “The rainbow comes and goes. Enjoy it while it lasts. Don’t be surprised by its departure, and rejoice when it returns.” Vanderbilt wrote. Her son liked the image, but wanting more security prefers to prepare for when it goes, to be able to survive until better times come again.

Both Cooper and Vanderbilt are writers. He is anchor on Anderson Cooper 360’ and a correspondent for CBS’s 60 minutes. She is an artist and designer and has written eight books and many magazine articles.

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