(There is always the chance that a any book discussion might reveal too much about an unread story – if you haven’t read the book and want to, you might want to wait to read what is written here – just in case.)
Bruce Farrell Rosen’s memoir outlines the major events of his life. In If You Ever Need Me, I Won’t Be Far Away, he shares his connections to music, sports, writing, traveling, his family, and above all his mother.
At the beginning of the book, we learn that the strength of Bruce’s marriage is teetering. He tells us that he had an affair with a woman he met when he was buying a piano in New York for his son. The piano was to be a graduation gift from him and his wife to their son. The relationship understandably created a rift in his marriage and he struggles with mixed feelings about his wife throughout the book. He wants to make his wife happy (and even feels responsible for her happiness) but cannot commit to their relationship.
He shares that “perhaps (for his ex-wife) the thought of being here without romance was too painful a consideration. She wasn’t interested at all, though I did try; I so much want her to be happy, to enjoy life in its richness. Sometimes I am so sad that she is sad.” He goes on to say, ” She cannot be my medicine, but often, I would like to be hers. And when I try, I get pulled into a place of sadness from which it can take a few days to emerge. I strive to observe borders, to recognize limitations, but the lines are often amorphous – emotions, thoughts, feelings just spilling over like a faucet that continues to pour into an already-full glass.”
Bruce also writes a lot about his mother and his special relationship with her. She was a seer and tremendously important in Bruce’s life. He believes that her death was a troublesome turning point in his life. Her absence weighs heavily on him. Bruce tells us “God, I know, truly does give us just as much and no more than we can handle at any moment in time. The loss of my mom will take a lifetime to digest, so profound was her influence.”
It seems as though Bruce battles with depression at times, or at least intense sadness. The book has a maudlin feel to it. The connections to music, sports, foreign cities, and world events are certainly interesting. And it is clear that Bruce cares a great deal about the people in his life.
But the book’s 600 pages are just a lot. I think the story could have been told in about half of its current page count.