Anyone who read his 2011 At Random feature in The Times knows that Dr. Mario Bartoletti has led a full and intriguing life.
He has served in the military and worked with families as a psychologist and therapist. In his late 70s, he remains physically fit through the famed Charles Atlas regimen. Bartoletti has been an activist for various South Georgia causes. And he is a writer.
Last year, he published the inspiring and enjoyable read, “Becoming a Man.” This 528-page book encompasses only a short portion of Bartoletti’s experiences.
The book “is the first volume of a three-volume autobiographical project I began in 2003,” Bartoletti writes in the introduction. “It traces my life from birth to the age of 21. This volume encompasses certain experiences from my childhood and teen years that I consider most significant during the early development of my character and personality.”
It was reflections on family — memories of those who had passed, their stories silenced — that led Bartoletti to write his memoirs.
“My parents were immigrants who kept busy most of their lives. At family get-togethers, there were recountings of their youthful lives, but with gaps,” Bartoletti shared with The Times. “After their deaths in the 1980s, I realized for the first time how little I actually knew of their childhood days. That got me into reflecting on my own boyhood.”
He started writing these reflections in much the same way as the book starts. He tells the story of how his parents met which led to their marriage and his birth.
“It came to me that what I remembered most vividly of my development were experiences that had directly affected my character and personality — and the man I became,” Bartoletti said. “That is how the title developed.”
Many of Bartoletti’s childhood memories of himself and family have remained vivid by numerous recountings through the years with his younger brother, Ross.
“As a result, some remained fresh due to reminiscing with him as young husbands and fathers,” Bartoletti says. “Writing them down at this late stage of life provides a deeper warmth and appreciation than was possible as a young man busy setting out on life.”
Recalling memories while writing his memoirs inspired new understandings of events and people within his family.
“The most important revelation was how much the Italian culture nurtured me — the large family, in the U.S., Canada and Italy,” Bartoletti says. “I came to deeply appreciate my cultural heritage as a result of doing this first volume. Also, it brought considerable closeness to my father. As I wrote of experiences with him, I could almost hear his voice in my head.”
Initially, he intended to write one volume of memoirs, but he developed the idea of dividing his life into a trilogy of books as the number of pages increased on his early experiences.
“The second volume, at this point, is limited to rough drafts of five significant experiences of my early life with Lilli (his wife),” Bartoletti says. “The same pattern of descriptive vignettes will be used in the second volume as they most clearly demonstrate the nature of certain events that have impacted upon me.”
With the working title of “Being a Person,” he hopes to complete the second volume by 2015. Dr. Al Margulies, a colleague psychiatrist with whom Bartoletti shared a practice for several years, would often advise patients, “‘Be a person!’ It was based upon a colloquial admonition meaning: ‘Grow up and shoulder your responsibilities.’”
As for anyone considering writing a memoir, Bartoletti suggests making the most important events — ones with the most impact on the person’s life — the primary focus.
“Write them down in rough-draft form before they are forgotten, and keep them in a folder,” Bartoletti says. “They will then be available for development later when there is adequate time for writing them in more complete form.”
Anyone interested in this book should contact Mario Bartoletti by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.