Lee Kravitz's "Unfinished Business," about a year of making amends

Sunday, June 13, 2010


One Man's Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things

By Lee Kravitz

Bloomsbury. 209 pp. $25

Lee Kravitz was dealt a major setback. A lifelong workaholic and perfectionist, he was fired as editor of Parade magazine.

After going through a gamut of emotions -- denial, anger, humiliation -- Kravitz decided to transform his misfortune into an opportunity. Instead of looking for a job and possibly plunging back into a grueling work schedule, he vowed to spend one year tying up emotional loose ends, including repaying an old debt, making a long overdue condolence call, and finding an estranged family member.

This is the premise of "Unfinished Business," which takes readers along on his journey to make amends, get closure and answer gnawing questions.

"The items on my list of unfinished business were linked to my deepest feelings of helplessness, disappointment and fear," Kravitz writes. "It's ironic: We consign our most essential business to the bottom of our to-do list because we lack the time and energy to do the things that matter most in our lives well."

Ultimately, by dealing with each item on his list, Kravitz came to a happier, more purposeful way of life, one less dominated by work and the fear of failure, and more focused on family and small acts of kindness.

There are hints of self-indulgence, particularly in a section about forgiving a high school bully, which seemed to assign overblown significance to a pretty ordinary childhood woe. But generally Kravitz writes with an inspiring sincerity. His experiences are so familiar that it would be hard for readers not to reflect on their own unfinished business -- and want to tend to it.

-- Sarah Halzack

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