I was saddened when I woke up this morning to read that author Robert James Waller had passed away at the age of 77.
Waller was renowned as a romantic author. His books were praised in the press, but criticized because they exploited extramarital affairs. The subject matter of his two biggest best-sellers were men who pursued married women.
The top seller, Bridges of Madison County, appeared in 1992. It was on the New York Times best-seller list for over three years, which was the longest tenure for a title since the early 1950’s. Later, it became a movie with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. Last year, I saw the Broadway production of the play at the Dallas Summer Musicals. His second major work, Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend, was also a huge success.
According to Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press, Waller was an instructor in Management, Economics, and Applied Mathematics at the University of Northern Iowa from 1968 to 1991.
Waller died of cancer on Friday at his home in Fredericksburg, Texas.
The appeal of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (New York: Hyperion, 2008) is universal and longstanding. It was on the bestseller list for many months and has received great critical acclaim.
Pausch was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon. At the time he gave the lecture that this book was based upon, he had been recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. The lecture focused on living, not dying. His preface to the book states, “with thanks to my parents who allowed me to dream, and with hopes for the dreams my children will have.” The lecture and book discusses achieving your childhood dreams, overcoming obstacles, and how to seize every moment that you have while you are living.
I am requiring this book in my communication courses this fall. When students give their persuasive presentation, I want them to imagine that it is their “last lecture,” and deliver their topic with the passion that resontates with this book.
Think about how you would sound if you were giving your last chance to make an appeal to change someone’s mind or call people to action. Your last.
What do you think?
Let’s talk about it this week!