Friday, October 9, 2009

Greatest Thing That Almost Happened

Greatest Thing That Almost Happened by Don Robertson
part 3 of the trilogy featuring Morris Bird III
Trade paperback, 268 pages
HarperCollins, 2009 (Original copy right 1970)
ISBN-13: 9780061868146
very highly recommended

Synopsis from cover:
If there was one genuine truth that Morris Bird III thought he understood, it was that the world forever and relentlessly changed. But only in one direction—from simple to complicated.
When he was nine, Morris Bird III learned the meaning of bravery. Now, at seventeen, he's on the verge of adulthood . . . and he's fallen in love. But it's 1952 and the Korean War hangs over his head like a dangling sword—and his prickly, complicated relationship with his cold and silent father has never been satisfactorily resolved. When Morris's own mortality stares him in the face, he learns what it truly means to become a man.
The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened is the final book in Don Robertson's classic trilogy featuring one of the most endearing characters in American literature.
My Thoughts:

You really need to make sure you read Don Robertson's trilogy featuring Morris Bird III in order, starting with The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread. (The Sum and Total of Now is the second book.) Four more years have passed and Morris is now 17. He has a girlfriend, by his own admission he swears too much, and he's on the basketball team in high school. He imagines he will be drafted and heading off to the Korean War after graduation. He's also a little concerned that he's been feeling sleepy and out of breath lately. This is Robertson's heartbreaking last novel featuring the unforgettable character of Morris Bird III.
I very highly recommend reading all three books in the series.


There are larger considerations than the world, or pain. One of them is grace. Or call it decency. Or call it love. (Why should your neighbor hurt because you do?) opening

The boy's name was, ahem, Morris Bird III, which was ridiculous, and you didn't have to tell him it was ridiculous. He was seventeen, and his complexion was awful. He was a Democrat, and so he did not like Richard M. Nixon's dog, the sainted Checkers. pg. 1

....last year the laps hadn't bothered him, and so what was it? Was he over the hill at the great and colossal age of seventeen? (Sometimes lately his chest hurt, and sometimes lately he became very sleepy for no reason, and what the hell was happening? pg. 3

"Leave movies out of this."
"But the Thing was a vegetable," said Morris Bird III, "and I'll guarantee you something. I am not a vegetable. I am all animal, all blood and guts and ten yards wide."
"Very funny. You and your movies." pg. 5

Julie makes no effort to dislodge his intrepid hands, but she does wriggle a bit, and then she says: "It's all you think about."
"What do you mean?"
"You know what I mean."
"More than smooching."
"So?" says Morris Bird III. "So I'm human, that's all." pg. 15

But all good things end. and some good things end before they happen. God knows, they almost happen, but when you're seventeen too many of them are grabbed away at the last second.
Which means that the greatest things that happen to Morris Bird III are the greatest things that almost happen. pg. 17

As for truth, well, he believed in the truth of facts, which was as usable a truth as he'd ever found. And the truth of the more cruel emotions - grief, for instance. pg. 23

Any day now he would have to get to know, by God, his father.
Any day now he would have to sit down with his father and say: Permit me to introduce myself, old boy. My name is Morris Bird III, and... since yours is Morris Bird II... that makes me your son. Would you care to shake hands? pg. 25

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