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R.I.P. Erich Segal, author of Love Story

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Double Down, Jan 19, 2010.

  1. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member


    I offer no apologies for the fact that Love Story -- widely considered one of the sappiest, cheesiest popular books ever penned -- is a personal favorite. It is an obvious reflection of who I am, and the way that I write (here and elsewhere) that something so sentimental remains important to me after all these years. (Unlike most people, I've never seen the Ryan O'Neal/Ali McGraw film and have no desire to.)

    But as a heartbroken college sophomore, I read the opening passage of Love Story, and in some ways, it made me want to be a writer. All those years ago, I was even inspired by the book to write an awful story story for my "Intro to Creative Writing" class that was essentially a roman à clef about my break-up with a girl. But it also helped me understand why writing is cathartic, and is probably the genesis of everything personal I've ever written here at SportsJournalists.com.

    So tip of the cap to you, Erich Segal. Long live Ollie and Jenny. Your novel also helped alter the course of American history when various lazy political reporters used a comment by Al Gore that he had been the basis for the Oliver Barrett character as another example that he was a liar and a braggart (even though Segal confirmed it was more or less true).

    Here is the opening paragraph to the book, which I still love, cheesy as it is.

    What can you say about a 25-year-old girl who died?

    That she was beautiful. And brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. And the Beatles. And me. Once, when she specifically lumped me with those musical types, I asked her what the order was, and she replied, smiling, "Alphabetical." At the time I smiled too. but now I sit and wonder whether she was listing me by my first name -- in which case I would trail Mozart -- or by my last name, in which case I would edge in there between Bach and the Beatles. Either way I don't come first, which for some stupid reason bothers the hell out of me, having grown up with the notion that I always had to be number one. Family heritage, don't you know?
  2. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    Re: R.I.P. Eric Segal, author of Love Story

    A very prescient tale about the re-evaluation of status in society. Hard to remember that back then, it wasn't a given that you ended up with whom you fell in love with.
  3. Oggiedoggie

    Oggiedoggie Well-Known Member

    Re: R.I.P. Eric Segal, author of Love Story

    Where do I begin?
  4. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    Re: R.I.P. Eric Segal, author of Love Story

    Thank you, Mantovani.
  5. Guy_Incognito

    Guy_Incognito Well-Known Member

    He wrote books that were 95% great, though the endings on most of them fell short. Doctors was my favorite, but eveything until the later ones (Nobel Prize, Woman Rabbi) were worth the read. RIP to a master of his trade.
  6. shockey

    shockey Active Member

    r.i.p., my fellow midwood high (brooklyn) alum! 8) :( :'(
  7. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    I thought Taylor Swift wrote that.
  8. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

  9. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    The Love Story / Al Gore connection inspired a classic Maureen Dowd column. My favorite part:

    "Perhaps Mr. Segal, who contributed to Mr. Gore's 1984 senatorial campaign, is squirreled away bringing the saga of Ollie-Allie up to date so it can be published in time for the campaign. Mr. Segal could model this sequel on a couple with a real class chasm -- an uptight preppie Vice President and a free-spirited President from a working-class background. Instead of a life-threatening illness, there are life-threatening legal problems. Instead of a beloved wife wasting away, beloved issues and ideas waste away. In this version, the preppie does not rebel against authority, except occasionally, when he refuses to go over to Marty Peretz's to eat canapes and debate the Middle East. And this time around, Tommy Lee Jones gets all the girls.

    Imagine a Segalesque chapter where Al and Bill, at their regular White House lunch, contemplate the unthinkable: breaking up.

    Al is talking about ''digital earth'' and ''distributed intelligence,'' but he can tell Bill is distracted.

    ''Wise up, Preppie, wouldja please?'' Bill says. ''I don't give a hoot about digital earth. We won't be doing that at Dreamworks SKGC.''

    ''You are going to Hollywood?'' Al asks, dumbfounded.

    ''Steven and David and Jeffrey really want me. I can hardly wait.''

    Al grabs him by the shoulders, maybe a bit too roughly. ''Hey -- you're going to leave me here alone with Janet Reno?''

    Al feels the barriers in his soul returning, those inner divisions between head and heart. Suddenly his earth is not in balance.

    ''Allie, don't be stupid,'' Bill says. ''It's inevitable that we go our separate ways. You're a preppie zillionaire with a sense of entitlement and I'm a social zero with a lot of legal bills.''

    Al is still holding onto Bill's shoulders. ''But we're together now,'' he pleads. ''We're happy.''

    Bill bites his lip. ''I wish I wasn't leaving you with this mess over the phone calls, the Indian casinos, the Buddhist temple and all.''

    Al does what he has never done in the President's presence. He cries. Bill wraps him in a big hug, murmuring, ''It'll be O.K.'' ''Just remember, Preppie, you're perfect. Being Al Gore means never having to say you're sorry.''
  10. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    Love Story's main claim to fame may be the cheesiest line ever: "Love means never having to say you're sorry".

    The book's saving grace was it was infinitely better than the movie, starring maybe the two worst actors of their generation. I saw it in a seedy movie theatre in Athens, dubbed in Greek with English subtitles.

    Still, I remember seeing Segal on the various late night talk shows and he struck me as a charming, witty man who seemed a tad embarrassed with his rise to stardom (such as it was in the pre-internet, 24/7 news universe)

  11. micropolitan guy

    micropolitan guy Well-Known Member

    I won't read that book again, because the ending's just too hard to take.
  12. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    The movie ages badly, in large part because Ali acted far worse than she looked,
    and the world's caught up to just how big a douche Ryan O was and is. An
    absolute must-miss, from all angles.
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