Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Along The Way: a thought-provoking memoir

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Northern Spain - Father-son books litter the shelves of libraries and bookstores, some good, some, well, some best left on family coffee tables.

But Along The Way, The Journey of a Father and Son by Martin Sheen and his son Emilio Estevez is a book worthy of any library or bookstore.

It's even worth buying to read if your local librarian can't afford it.

Along The Way spins off the movie made by Sheen and Estevez called The Way.

The movie is good. And now that I have read the book, I will probably watch it again, knowing more about the some of the background.

The book is not about the making of the movie solely, but about Martin Sheen - whose real name is Ramon Estevez - and his son's lives, both where they are intertwined and separately. Sheen's early life and choice of an acting career was very much at odds with that his father (a Galacian immigrant) and mother (an Irishwoman) would have chosen for him.

And while I have always thought of Estevez as the young guy from Repo Man, he's an accomplished director and as complex as his far-better-known father.

The book alternates chapters between the two men, with Sheen holding the advantage when it comes to philosophical comments, Estevez about the movie business.

Though it is uneven in spots, Along the Way is an excellent read - especially for fathers and sons.

Here's are two brief excerpts from Martin Sheen's final chapter:

"There is an old saying: If you arrive at the Kingdom alone, you must answer one question,
 'Where are the others?'
We are made so that we must travel alone, yet we cannot do so without community."

"The Irish tell a story of a man who arrives at the gates of heaven and asks to be let in.
'Of course,' Saint Peter says. 'Just show us your scars.'
'I have no scars,' the man replies,
'What a pity,' Saint Peter says. 'Was there nothing worth fighting for?'

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