Sunday, February 1, 2015

Help, Help! Another Day! by Hal Boyle

Hal Boyle wrote over 6000 columns for the Associated Press.  All of them were commentaries on the life he lived and what he saw around him.  He saw, he mused, he wrote and got published in the paper.  Most of us don't get that kind of audience for our opinions.

Because, really, that's all Hal Boyle wrote about.  His observations on women, children (his wife and adopted daughter especially), life in New York City, remembrances of his mid western upbringing in a large Irish Catholic family, dark times overseas during WWII...

We all sit around and talk about things but rarely put pen to paper (or fingers to computer nowadays), much less get published.  How did Mr. Boyle end up getting paid to be opinionated?

For starters, he's a good writer.  His style is personable.  The reader has never met him (and never will in this lifetime) but feels as though he is a good friend.  He's not arrogant but self-deprecating.  That's the type of writer the world at large enjoys reading, generally speaking. 

Hal Boyle is your friend next door.  When he tells you about his mother, you think "Yes, my mother was like that.  Well, maybe my grandmothers.  They were the ones the same age as Boyle's mother who gritted their teeth and slogged it through the depression, feeding and clothing children, burying the ones that got sick with no penicillin to heal them and never lost their ability to laugh.  

He married one woman and stayed with her until she died in her middle years of cancer.  His columns express his love and respect for her.  He never remarried.  The little girl they adopted amazed him and he announces to the world he never knew he could love anyone so much.

Secondly, he's funny.  One reads his articles while smiling.  The only stories that contained sadness were his years in Germany during WWII.  He wrote what he saw but with compassion at the suffering.  Not only of Americans but of the Germans learning to carry on in the aftermath of a wrecked, broken country.

Help, Help!  Another Day!  Is out of print but there are used copies on Amazon.  I bought the book because it was mentioned in one of my "how to be a brilliant writer" books that I'm a sucker for.  His writing is a good example of great writing and I'm emulous of it.


  1. Basic essays about life can be so good and so enlightening in the hands of the right author.

    I like the lack of arrogance that you mention. As with people in everyday life, humble people often write very enjoyable pieces.

  2. Brian: You're right. I like reading books and articles by people who show compassion and respect for others. They're the most enjoyable. Take care!


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