In Innovation, Life and Love: Reflections on Living with Mortality, you will voyage through the mind of Michael Gollin—husband, father, poet, photographer, and international patent attorney—as he crosses the sea of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS. Through poetry, stories, essays, and photographs, you will run across the Brooklyn Bridge, cycle in Switzerland, cross Russia on the Trans-Siberian Express during the cold war, hike up Mt. Fuji (all of which Michael accomplished in his youth), canoe the Everglades, raft the New River, climb to Machu Picchu, canoe the Peruvian Amazon , explore the Galapagos (and rest in a tortoise shell), experience an African wildlife sanctuary, search a Polish cemetery, and race in a wheelchair (most of which Michael accomplished with his wife and three adult children). [He writes one poem—Not Dead Yet—with apologies to Monty Python for his black comedy sketch of the same name from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail:” “BRING OUT YOUR DEAD!”] [“Not Dead Yet” in two stanzas]
Look back, and you will see the international patent attorney, a partner at Venable LLP and chair of their Life Sciences group, an intellectual property expert who has published a well-known text on the subject. He has been adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, has prosecuted patents on enzyme catalysis, recombinant DNA, artificial sweeteners, vaccines . . . , published numerous articles in law journals, founded PIIPA, Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors, an international nonprofit organization to provide pro bono IP legal counsel to governments, businesses, indigenous peoples, and public interest organizations in developing countries . . . . What a fascinating life, and one that has touched so many others!
On June 27, 2010, two years before his ALS diagnosis, Michael posted this Amazon review of my novel Well Considered. I liked the review so much that I republished the novel with Michael’s review as the back cover copy:
“The past crashes into the future—by Michael Gollin, June 27, 2010″
“This book is a page turner, weaving together the tales of two families, one white, one African-American, as they confront their past and stumble towards their future. The lives of their ancestors collided a century ago, and through a suspenseful plot, they collide again today, in “Patuxent County” outside Washington DC. Morris lives in Prince George’s County, Maryland, one of the most diverse in the country, and locals will recognize this region and its complex history as the basis for his novel. The descendants of slaves and sharecroppers, tobacco farmers and white supremacists live side by side with recent implants. The location is a microcosm for the rest of the nation, and the characters, dialogue, and inter-racial relationships, as well as the action and drama, will hold much interest for all readers. Morris has a wry sense of humor and a deft ear for dialog between characters having many different racial and cultural backgrounds. Also, as we saw in his Vietnam-era novel, Cologne No. 10 for Men, Morris knows how to put together gripping action scenes. And his deep humanity comes across in the way the story resolves. Dick Morris is a clever writer, and this book deserves broad readership and great success.”
During the past year or so, I have had the pleasure of visiting Michael and his wife, children, and care-giver nearly once a week at their home in Bowie, Maryland. This summer and fall, I have sat with him—he in his motorized wheelchair—on his back deck in a lovely wood with birds singing and a woodpecker tapping. We have had many laughs, even though he cannot use his voice now and communicates by typing on a phone-like device that speaks for him. This summer, he returned with his family to the house on Cape Cod where he has vacationed since he was a child. And just a few weeks ago, he published the amazing book that I review above. Believe me, Michael Gollin is a courageous traveler.