[The following is an excerpt from an extended book review of Lester Goran’s book “Bing Crosby’s Last Song.” The book review is written more like a creative essay / short story than a book review. If you are interested in reading the entire review, you can email me at daniellclausen [at] gmail [dot] com ]
I try to find other things on Lester, but it seems the internet age has not been kind to him. I find an article in the Sun Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale’s newspaper) written in 2011. The article says that 1960 was a “banner” year for Lester. That the Paratrooper of Mechanic Avenue came out to wide attention. But online I have trouble even finding anything about the work.
In the Sun Sentinel article, though, I find things that make Lester live and breathe. I find this quote by him about his early days teaching at the University of Miami: “I wasn’t making that much writing and I was teaching a lot of hours,” Goran says. “In the summers I went back to sell storm windows in Pittsburgh. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have made it.”
That adds some flesh to Lester’s blue-collar sensibility. His anger probably also helped him scrap when he needed to.
I find out other things about Lester — he had three children. I’m not sure what to make of that.
I don’t find much on his first book, Paratrooper of Mechanic Avenue, but I do find some stuff written on him on Rate my Professors.
Of course, the site’s biased. Most students hate professors who call their writing crap. He might not have used the word “crap.” Maybe he did. But he didn’t keep his opinions to himself. As I read some of the comments on “Rate my Professors,” I can’t help but agree with some of the students who wrote bad reviews — I try to dig deeper as to why. College was Goran’s paycheck, but I always got the feeling he would rather get paid to write. He had a chip on his shoulder about it and he didn’t hesitate to put down universities — perhaps as something less than what was out there in the real world.
One person wrote, “Knowledgeable but spiteful bitter and egotistical.”
To be fair, his ratings are all over the map. Who knows what kind of professor he was. Perhaps his teaching quality changed according to mood and decade. After all, there were five decades worth of Lester to love or hate. 1970s Lester was probably a lot different than 2000s Lester.