What begins as the wrenching recollection of a 1950s teen from a tenement near the Bronx evolves unexpectedly into a disarming meditation on family ties and the power of the pen. Who could have envisioned this high school dropout becoming pals with Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel? Or that a shocking revelation about his abusive father would at once shatter and shape Anderson's identity, beliefs, and vocation? In his journey from pint-size pool shark to Parade magazine editor, there are many milestones worth mentioning. But one will stick with me: ''Just What Is Vietnam?'' -- the letter soon-to-be Sergeant Anderson wrote for himself and his fellow Marines. It was his first published piece, and in it you'll find just why he was meant to be a writer.