Sunday, April 23, 2006

Surprising bug hunts

I am a voracious reader and dedicated researcher -- or searcher, if you will. A bit of news or a book captures my attention and I set out on one of my bug hunts to find out what is behind the story. Interest in a lot of the books I have read was sparked by a review or a blurb or a single sentence, and many times by a movie I liked or didn't like based on a book. That's how I came to find and love Jane Austen, from a movie. I have always wanted to know the story behind the story. That's how I came to discover The Other Man, a book by model turned actor Michael Bergin.

I didn't know about Bergin and couldn't have cared less. I pay only passing attention to models, super models and actors unless they strike me as particularly interesting. I don't care about their lives, loves or peccadilloes and tabloid features barely pique my interest at the check out counter at the supermarket. I'm more interested in keeping my eyes and hands off the Almond Joys and Heath bars, not to mention the Snickers. My eyes have to have something else to look at while I wait for my turn to pay.

I would have had to be on the moon or beyond the orbit of Pluto not to have noticed John F. Kennedy, Jr. and his wife and sister-in-law's watery end a few years ago, but celebrities don't really excite me. I have met enough of them to know they are just as human and messed up as the rest of us. I'd rather read something more fascinating -- fiction or nonfiction about stem cell controversies and historic figures. I'm glad I read The Other Man and got to know Bergin and Carolyn Bessette through Bergin's eyes. After all, they will one day be the historic figures someone will avoid the tabloids to read about.

Bergin is no writer, but he tells his story in simple language that has the unvarnished ring of truth to it. No matter his motives, and everyone has one, I do not believe he wanted to capitalize on Carolyn's celebrity and death but to tell the truth. Had he been in it strictly for the money I'm certain the intimate details of sex would have been much more lurid and descriptive than "...the four days we spent on my red futon."

The Other Man is a chance to know history from the point of view of someone who actually lived it moment by moment instead of some rehashing scrounged from papers, secondhand accounts and cryptic diaries.

We live in an age where TV, video and tell-all books seldom tell all. We are over exposed and the stories are slanted so as to provide the author -- or those who pay the authors -- a chance to rewrite history and put a positive spin on the events. No one will ever know the whole truth of any story as long as some of the participants remain silent. Although I'm not a fan of celebrity gossip and tell-all books, I will say that I enjoyed the time I spent seeing the world and Carolyn Bessette from Bergin's point of view. True or not, at the end of any book if I feel I haven't wasted my time, I am content. This time I feel I have been given a personal glimpse of a very private and human affair, and I'm glad for the bug hunt that led me to Bergin's book.

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