2 Sentence Summary
Peter Barton, a successful husband, father, friend, and businessman, is diagnosed with a terminal stomach cancer and asks Laurence Shames, a writer, to help document the last months of his life. Peter is able to provide a unique perspective on facing death that will be beneficial to those of us who are still far away from that event horizon through this book “Not Fade Away”.
Summary Read Time: Less than 4 minutes
Actual Book Length: 224
First Published in: 2003
Below is the detailed yet quick summary of the book:
Who was Peter Barton & What Happened to Him?
Barton co-founded Liberty Media, which pioneered with the Discovery Channel, Fox Sports, The Learning Channel, Black Entertainment Television, and STARZ. He was a visionary on the threshold of the cable television era.
Barton met and married his wife along the way to his success. They started a family. Once Barton knew they were financially secure, having made some profitable stock market investments, he felt free to explore new horizons and stepped down as President of Liberty Media.
Barton was in the middle of a meeting with Yahoo executives about launching a new career in the Internet sphere when he got a call from his doctor. The doctor told him he needed to come to the office to discuss the results of some tests. Barton remembers the call: “I need you to come to my office to discuss this with me. You have cancer.” Just like that. That terse, that quick; that casual.
The Yahoo board of directors is staring at me. Maybe they understand that something bad has happened; maybe they’re just wondering what could possibly be more important than going head to head with AOL.” Life is suddenly brought into sharp focus for Barton as he realizes the importance of his next decision.
Writing Not Fade Away
Barton, in collaboration with mystery writer and novelist Laurence Shames, narrates NOT FADE AWAY. It is a diary, memoir, and biography all in one. Shames, who didn’t know Barton personally but was introduced to him by a mutual friend, says that Barton’s first intent was to leave something of himself for his three children, ages 14, 11 and 9.
But as the relationship between the two men intensified during the last months of Barton’s life, the idea behind the book grew to become something much more powerful. Shames saw the enormous humor and deep affection Barton felt for his family, friends, and life in general. He wanted to share Barton’s exuberance for life and his growing insights into himself with the public. Barton was able to see the beauty in life, even as the inevitable drew near.
NOT FADE AWAY is a story that deals with life, death, and everything in between with humor, honesty, and courage. It’s a journey that we will all have to take at some point, but thanks to Peter Barton’s story, it doesn’t seem so scary.
The Takeaways from Not Fade Away
1: Faith has secular applications
Peter demonstrates how faith is, at its core, a fundamental human experience — something that is often only considered within the context of religion and spirituality. Throughout his career as a top-notch negotiator, Peter has always had someone to settle terms with. But now, in the face of his impending death, he realizes that he has no one to negotiate with. Laurence elaborates on Peter’s hopes and wishes for the future which he will soon no longer be a part of — most notably, life for his family.
2: How to gracefully cope with an illness
As he nears the end of his life, Peter finds himself feeling cynical when he hears others complain about mundane difficulties in their lives. However, by the end of the book, he resolves to find joy in the simple pleasures of life, like hearing his children play throughout the house, even though he is confined to a bed and no longer able to join them.
3: Why it’s worth committing one’s self to to one’s life
Throughout the book, Peter thoughtfully reflects on many of his life’s most meaningful experiences. He cherishes each one for how it uniquely contributed to his journey, regardless of whether it was simple, grandiose, constructive, or destructive.