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James Patterson Writes His Life Story

My bedside lamp stayed on way too late a couple of nights while I read a book I’d checked out from the library: James Patterson by James Patterson.  The next day I bought a copy of the book to reread and highlight and turn down pages and make notes.

            Before reading this book, I knew Patterson as the author of many stand-alone books and several series:  Alex Cross and Women’s Murder Club and Middle School.  And I’d researched and learned that he’s the author of over 300 published books, some with co-authors, and 100 books have been listed as New York Times best sellers.

            I didn’t know his dad grew up in the Pogey – the Newburgh, New York, poorhouse – and that Patterson, in his words, “toiled in advertising hell” and wrote the jingle line, ‘I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us Kid,’ and that he’s been in love only twice – both times amazing.  All information on the book’s flyleaf. 

             I was hooked when I read the first page: “i want to tell you some stories….the way i remember them anyway.”  Stories.  Not facts, not an autobiography, written in chronological order. 

            Patterson wrote this memoir in the writing style that he describes as colloquial, the way we talk to one another.  He writes, “I think colloquial storytelling is a valid form of expression.  If you write down your favorite story, there might not be any great sentences, but it still could be outstanding.”  He claims one thing he’s learned and has taken to heart about writing books and giving a good speech is to tell stories.  Story after story after story.

            Reading his memoir, I learned he wrote his first book early mornings and late nights while working full-time at an advertising agency and he got a full-ride PhD fellowship to study Engish at Vanderbilt University and he’s a golfer and has played golf with three presidents.

            Patterson wrote outlines, in long hand, for his first books to create every scene, and he continues this method.  When he has a co-author, he writes detailed outlines, discusses scenes with the co-author and together they write the books. 

            Patterson believes everyone should be given the opportunity to learn to read – that alone makes me a fan.  He writes, “I want every kid in this country reading and loving it.  No child should be left illiterate.  Kids should read as if their lives depend on it….because they do.” He’s provided college scholarships to students to become teachers and he’s given money to teachers for classroom libraries.  

            As he wrote of his donations, he chided himself and shared his grandmother’s words, “Don’t hurt your arm patting yourself on the back.”  His strong ego comes through in the telling of his life stories.

             James Patterson by James Patterson is an entertaining, inspiring and encouraging memoir.  I dog-eared the pages of the chapter entitled ‘dog-eared and well-loved books,’ his list of books that are important to him. Some are now on my lifetime reading list.

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