Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon by Buzz Aldrin with Ken Abraham
Here’s the thing: I have a natural affinity for Michael Collins (the only Apollo 11 astronaut whose marriage survived) and Neil Armstrong (a near-recluse after the moon landing; I get that). So of the three Apollo 11 astronauts, who do I read about first? Yes, that would be Buzz Aldrin.
I will admit that I complained about Aldrin’s making the most of the 40th anniversary of the 1st moon landing by publishing his (2nd) memoir to coincide with it. But did I read it? Heck, yes.
Aldrin has overcome some serious demons, which is impressive stuff, to be sure. He is frank about the depression and alcoholism that accompanied him during the decade after the moon landing (and the depression that continues to this day, off and on). I appreciate that honesty. And I’m glad he has done some interesting pop culture stuff, such as appearing on Sesame Street. That’s pretty lovable.
I think part of my discomfort is that when one writes a memoir, there are so many absent points of view—whereas a good biography often takes alternate viewpoints into account. Anyway, I digress…
The thing I like best about Aldrin, in addition to his openness about his personal difficulties, is his ongoing passion for space travel. And his democratic approach, proposing a lottery that would allow an average Jane the opportunity to travel beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. And I really like his idea that we should send writers, artists, and songwriters into space so they can capture the essence of it in a way that astronauts and scientists cannot. Brilliant, no?
So look out your window Right Now: We’ve got a full moon going on up there, and it looks like a fine place to see up close. Wouldn’t you throw your name into a lottery to go up there on a quick jaunt?
I’m thinking I’d do it, despite being more of an airplane freak than a space fanatic–a feeling that hits me every time I visit the National Air and Space Museum and I gaze at the airplanes like a lovelorn soul.