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A life of stories, a life of books

by Rachel Reynolds

October 1, 2005

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The reverend bends his head over an open book, a black Sharpie pen in his right hand, and scribbles a message inside. He sits at a half-circle honey-colored wooden table near a wall in Eck Visitor Center, both black shoes planted on the stone floor and a black jacket draped crookedly over the back of the chair in which he sits. Three extra felt-tip pens lie near his left elbow. The rumored-to-be quiet man is chatty and relaxed.

“Of all the books I’ve written, this is the most readable and most fun,” says Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C. as he reaches for a copy at a recent book signing of Monk’s Notre Dame. “I’m in it for the readership rather than for the money.”

A line of eager readers trails from the table back to the information booth, some reading pages of the book, another holding a disposable camera. Earlier, a television newsman stopped by to shoot some footage and ask a few questions.

The book, the most recent of a half dozen or so that Father Malloy has written, is “a collection of humorous, poignant, and revealing stories and anecdotes [that] offers special insight into the university …” according to the cover flap. With story titles such as “The Rector in the Casket,” “Two Cases of Grand Larceny,” “Umbrella Machismo,” and “The Scary Confessor,” it tempts the curious and the nostalgic. The hardcover book sells for $15 and is available at Hammes Bookstore on campus.

Father Malloy, who served as president of Notre Dame for 18 years before retiring in June, tells one person in line that he’s spending his time now writing two other books – one a memoir – and also watching DVDs. He recently watched “Ghosts of Rwanda” and declares it a fine piece of filmmaking. The PBS documentary chronicles the 1994 genocide in the small, Central African nation in which 800,000 human beings were killed in 100 days while the West stood aside and the world failed to act.

He talks to a woman in gray pants about someone close to her who has diabetes. He listens and nods his head and then signs her book with his black pen.

When greeting readers he sometimes laughs, the round sound echoing in the cavernous Eck Center and winding toward the ceiling, an arc of royal blue with white stars.

An older woman in a green shirt tells him that she’s recently attended a class reunion.

“You could write a whole book on alumni reunions,” Father Malloy says. “But it all comes down to mutual blackmail anyway.”

For Father Malloy, books are central to his nature. Not only is he a writer, but he is a prolific reader. During all his years as president, he taught a freshman seminar in literature and explored with students the world of thoughts on paper. To share in this experience and learn about his favorite titles and authors from around the globe, be sure to read his article “Books to Nourish One’s Soul” in the upcoming Winter 2005 issue of Notre Dame Business magazine.

 

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