“Read everything written by your favorite writer,” he urges the audience of middle schoolers. He continues, “My favorite writer is John Steinbeck.” Many of the eight graders, the last class to read
Of Mice and Men in the constantly changing sixth grade English curriculum, respond with a half-hearted
grunt cheer. Many of them, no doubt, quickly tug and pull on their fading memory of the book when they hear the title. The majority of them want to acknowledge that they too have read something that the invited speaker has read. At the same time, they want to be respectful and attentive, while somehow acknowledging a shared experience with the speaker, who awkwardly hesitates to give time and space for the emerging and halted cheer grunt. After a brief moment, he then lists the many works of Steinbeck. He shares the canonized titles that many literary lovers have heard of or have read. I am most impressed when he discusses the lesser known books and short stories from Steinbeck’s rich and expansive collection, which totals twenty-seven completed books.
“Borrow from your favorite writer,” he shares in his speech about his own rise to become a top blogger and sports writer on WFAN. “Their style will undoubtedly bleed into your own style as you craft your voice.”
My favorite writer, right now, is Rembert Browne. He is a twenty something year old blogger, former staff writer for Dartmouth’s newspaper, who has gained much praise and props for his epic OutKast and Jay Z NCAA inspired song brackets, an attempt to crown their best song. Please click the links, you will not be disappointed. He has recently joined the writing team of Grantland, a conglomerate of talented writers and social analysts assembled by another favorite writer of mine, Bill Simmons. Rembert’s writing style is informal and free flowing. Within this seemingly structure less rambling, he somehow opens himself to a fearless position of vulnerability, honestly sharing his inner thoughts beautifully in an unconventional manner. After each piece I read, I feel like I know Rembert Browne much more. I have read all of his writing, since his graduation from Dartmouth.
Here is a selection from a recent piece he wrote about Kim and Kris:
He Doesn’t Know What Marriage Is
I should preface this by telling you that I don’t really know what marriage is either. But I’m not the one with a wife. I’ve never met anyone less prepared for marriage than Kris. He treats Kim the way I treat my LinkedIn account: I signed up, but now that I have it, I only check in when nagged about it. Also, I can’t figure out why everyone takes it so seriously. If it were socially acceptable, I’d delete it and pretend that it never happened.
In this odd pairing of marriage and professional social site, he mixes a long island iced tea filled with humor, insight, life experience, commentary, honesty, and criticism. Most importantly, he connects with his audience. Even if one does not know what a LinkedIn account is, one can understand how poorly Kris treated Kim in their short marriage and how Rembert feels about it all.
As a part of America’s ageist society, one that looks down on the youth’s lack of experience and consequently assumed lack of knowledge, I mistakenly thought my role models and mentors had to be older than me. I was wrong.
Luckily, I know Rembert in real life. He is my basketball teammate. He is my dance partner at ugly sweater parties. Most importantly, he is my friend.
He encourages me to be a better writer and a better person; he encourages me to be me. He teaches me to relax and enjoy life; he teaches me to find the fun in the moment; he teaches me that random analogies provide some of the most insightful commentary; he teaches me that one does not have to fit other’s expectations, instead only satisfy one’s own.
In Maryann Williamson’s famous “Our Deepest Fear” quote, mistakenly attributed to Nelson Mandela often, she writes, “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Rembert has never sat down and taught me any of the things that I have learned from him. He teaches through his personality, his candidness, and the way he lives his life.
He inspires me.