January 17, 2013 Posted by damian in NEWS

'Silent Body, Vibrant Mind' by Peter Anderson

[Disclaimer - Peter Anderson is my cousin and the following review is heavily tainted by familial bias]

I've been working on a book for the past 6 years. It's been through a number of drafts and my editor Melanie has been extremely patient and generous with her time. It's still not published and it needs another draft before we even think about generating some more rejection letters.

Peter Anderson took over 10 years to get his book published and it's quite thin. I pointed this out to him while MCing the launch of his book recently. While I cite such excuses as 'shifting priorities', 'a volatile publishing market' and 'can't think of an ending' Pete has Motor Neuron Disease and wouldn't make excuses even if he could speak.

After being diagnosed with MND in 2000, writing became his passion as his body quickly began to regress around his still brilliant mind. The book began as a way of passing on his story to his daughter Eliza who was but a 1 year old when the diagnosis was delivered. Initially he was told he would be lucky to live for 2 years so the writing poured out of him. In time writing became physically difficult, exhausting and painful, yet he persisted with new technologies that kept his words trickling.

The result is one of the more enlightened pieces of writing I ever read. It is in equal measures profound, devastating, inspiring and gut wretching and one of the best handbooks on the acceptance of fate you could hope to read. It's a testament to a man who has confronted his mortality and not only found a reason to live on but actually love his life despite this 'despicable disease' and Hawthorn's recent Premiership fade.

Pete and I share the title 'Ex teacher.' In fact we both taught for roughly the same amount of time. I ultimately left teaching to become a full time comedian and an unpublished novelist and Pete briefly left teaching to work in HR but scuttled back to the classroom when he realised he had left his real vocation behind. While I revel in my current career, there are elements of teaching I still miss and I perform regularly to staff and students. The collegiality of educators in particular is hard to replicate. Pete's description of the nobility of teaching should be prescribed reading for all would-be educators and his anecdotes should be compulsory reading for all parents waiting outside a principals office ready to dump on their child's teacher. In fact such was Pete's impact in the classroom that some of his former students were at the vanguard to get the book published.

'Silent Body, Vibrant Mind' is also a love story. A man's love for his wife Lee and daughter Eliza and their love for him; the love of the people around them - mothers, sisters, neighbours, former students - who continue to ease their burden. It's the kind of biography we should read more often, It's not bristling with anecdotes about crushes on Kardashians or dates with Di Caprio's: It's the thoughts of an ordinary man who has been forced to endure extraordinary things and has proven himself to be something greater than he could have ever imagined.

This is Pete's website


You can buy the book from there or ask at your local bookstore. It's published by Brolga Books and available online via Pan Macmillan

My book can be read by stealing my hard-drive

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