Today, Anderson Cooper telepathically updated his Instagram for me with photos of his late father and childhood portraits with his late brother. Or so I would like to fantasize. My thoughts have been preoccupied with his story ever since finishing his memoir, Dispatches From the Edge. Great timing is what it was — with the photos. Regardless, what an eloquent, talented, brilliant writer! I have always been fascinated with his modest, diligent working ethics and passion in journalism considering his Vanderbilt lineage and extravagant upbringing.
Growing up with an heiress mother and accomplished father, his childhood is filled with memories of meeting some of the most famous figures in history. I mean, his parents hosted a welcome-back party for Charlie Chaplin when Chaplin returned to America from his gig abroad. His mom’s friends included Warhol and Capote. The family was loved by many and loved within. The family was complete, until he lost his father when he was only ten years old. Then a decade later, his older brother, who was 23 at the time, committed suicide at their New York penthouse in front of their mother. His mind was unsettled and curious, broken and defeated. Instead of reaching out for sympathy, comfort or peace, he began to look for stories of disasters and wars. He wanted to find a reality that mirrored his state of mind for balance. It gave him a rush. A kind of emotion that was impossible to feel at home ground. And soon he was surrounded by situations of life and death in Iraq, Niger, Sri Lanka, New Orleans, and beyond. When broadcasters failed to give him a career opportunity even with his Yale degree, the young and ambitious Anderson Cooper got a hold of a fake journalist ID pass and embarked on his own journalism with his camcorder and a plane ticket to Thailand to meet interview Burmese refugees.
The book is so powerfully written. It is the stories of survival he sought in disasters that helps Cooper to cope with the past when it resurfaces. I say this carefully because he once mentioned on his show that “moving on” is a mere television word and that it doesn’t really exist. Cooper genuinely and bravely opens a tantalizing window into his soul. His writing style is so simple, straightforward. He writes with a intimate rhythm that beats so closely to his heart you can almost hear it. It’s not just the sentences that tell the story but his sincere writing style. Everything about it, down to punctuation, is so lovingly and seriously Anderson Cooper. Even if you’re interest isn’t remotely journalism, I highly recommend the book with all my heart!
dee’s recommendation: 5/5