Book Report: Stories I Only Tell My Friends

The personal narrative, memoir, or autobiography is a genre that I have only come to appreciate in the last few years.  I can even tell you the first one I ever loved:  Eat, Pray, Love by Elisabeth Gilbert.  Since then, I have practically devoured each memoir I’ve read.

What is it about getting inside another person’s experience that is so appealing?  I walk away feeling more motivated to live my own life fully and fearlessly.  So when I saw Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe at the library, I grabbed it.

I admit, before this book, my limited knowledge of Rob Lowe was oriented around Sam Seaborn, the character he played on The West Wing.  I have been madly in love with Sam Seaborn since he gave Mallory that speech about his views on education, if not before. When I see Rob Lowe, I think something like, “Oh, look, that Sam Seaborn guy is playing a Republican senator on Brothers & Sisters.  Weird.”  I was actually a little bit hesitant to read his autobiography, because I didn’t want my lovely illusion of Sam Seaborn to be ruined by any unflattering remarks about The West Wing.

It turns out, Rob Lowe loves Sam Seaborn, too.  🙂

The level of tact and understanding with which Mr. Lowe approaches his writing is impressive.  The writing is good.  I will be reading about a difficult situation, and I’m engrossed.  I’m sympathetic to the problems.  I’ve bought into his emotions, 100%, and I’m right there with him.  Mr. Lowe has an understanding of the reader and how to get the reader to buy into situations that are far outside of the usual experience.

As with so many books I have loved, I felt a personal connection to Mr. Lowe’s experiences, especially during the late teenage years.  The differences are many:  He was a boy, I was a girl.  His stories played out in the context of film sets and auditions, mine in the context of high school and college.  And so on.  But there seems to be a universal experience of finding your way in the world, and Mr. Lowe telling his stories definitely made me think of my own.

“But I was facing bigger stakes by the day in work, and in every area of my young adult life.  And as I had done so many times before, I looked inward and formulated my own ethos as best I could.  Like with so much in my life, I was making it up as I went along.”  (p.151)

Even though his stories were different from mine, the experience was much the same.

I would like to reread Stories I Only Tell My Friends with a notebook beside me to record all the memorable and inspiring tidbits.  But here is my current favorite:

“Say yes to any opportunity to grow and/or do good work.  You never know where it will lead or who may be paying attention.”  (p. 266)

The aforementioned Sam Seaborn and Mallory O’Brien scene that has me on my feet for Sam’s idealized public education, every time I see it:

{Oh, boo on the “embedding disabled by request” nonsense!  Click on the link and go watch it on Youtube.  It’s worth it!}

(The best part, though, may be Leo’s last line: “Yes, you may go have lunch with a fascist.”  🙂 )

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. TBMeow
    Apr 12, 2012 @ 22:35:31

    Glad you loved the book too. I’ve been a fan for 20 years but the highlight is Sam Seaborn for me as well. I’ve given the education speech in faculty meetings and other educational settings. I got to meet him in London when he was doing A Few Good Men on stage; working with Aaron Sorkin again. He was so wonderful to
    fans. I knew a lot in the book but learned some new things as well. As a founding
    member of Save Sam some of the West Wing parts in the book made me cry all over again.
    Thanks for your comments. ^..^

    Reply

  2. Rebecka George
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 15:15:22

    Wonderful review! I have been a rob Lowe fan since first seeing Youngblood. And I truly loved him as Sam Seaborn, such a wonderful character – idealism, wit, intelligence, compassion.
    I enjoyed the book for the insight into such a decent and talented man. I have always admired his talent, now I admire the man.
    I have shared the book with a couple of friends who are also fans of his. And they have shared it with family members.
    Have you read the introduction that he wrote for the new paperback edition? It is such a lovely tribute to his Mother.

    Reply

  3. Trackback: Not Alone « Dawn’s Place
  4. megan
    Apr 14, 2012 @ 20:44:45

    Teeheee… Yep, the clip was worth clicking on 🙂

    Reply

  5. Fe
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 11:27:53

    Visited your blog and really enjoyed it! I’ll be back to check in and read your updates! 🙂 I loved Rob’s book too. I keep it on my kindle and find myself reading it even if I’m just waiting in the line at the supermarket!

    Reply

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