cover image He Was a Midwestern Boy on His Own

He Was a Midwestern Boy on His Own

Bob Greene. Atheneum Books, $22.95 (333pp) ISBN 978-0-689-12117-3

This collection of pieces culled from Greene's syndicated newspaper column, his ``American Beat'' feature in Esquire and his television material for ABC News Nightline is wildly uneven, with the best selections memorable indeed and the weakest, hackneyed and banal. The author is in top form in those essays calculated to bring a lump to the throat, like the story of a recovered leukemia victim working in a florist shop who put a personal note in a bouquet sent to a boy with leukemia, or Michael Jordan's kindness to a child who had been horribly abused. Others, such as an account of an obsessed fan worshiping a singing group long disbanded, miss the mark by far. Greene's talent, however, is not just for the sentimental: for example, his reportage of ``The Nixon-Presley Papers'' is hilarious. First serial to Reader's Digest. (Apr.)