I have thought of him often since then, and I did so again when I read that “Prostate Blues” is the “More Voices” theme for this month. That reflection impelled me to pull his last book from my shelf. He was a New York Times best-selling author of eight books, and his final one was a posthumous memoir titled Going the Distance: One Man’s Journey to the End of his Life. In his introduction to the volume, the noted sports journalist Robert Lipsyte wrote about George’s effort to “teach us to ‘spend your life learning how to live.'”
“He was still learning that the last time I saw him, four months before he died,” Lipsyte mused. “It was a day of gorgeous life, the sun splashing off the ocean and the beach, filling his living room. Beneath the windows, joggers huffed by. How many of them had he set on the road? He wasn’t interested in dwelling on the past, or on other people’s ambitions.
“‘I have come to believe,’ [George] said, with a hint of edge, ‘that you shouldn’t write about the marathon unless you’ve run it and you shouldn’t write about cancer unless you’ve got it. And you shouldn’t write about death unless you’re dying. Now, this book I’m doing, it’s going to be good. But the epilogue is going to be a problem.
“No problem on the epilogue, George,” Lipsyte concluded. “We are your epilogue.”