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Showcasing the intellectual depth of Patrick Swayze's characters

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 30, 2008 - "Pain don't hurt."

Such a quote doesn't make much sense on its face, but to the many fans of Patrick Swayze and his Roadhouse character, Dalton, it's elegant. It's on T-shirts, plastered on numerous websites and even in the online Urban Dictionary.

To Marcus Eder, it clicked as the cornerstone of his book "Nobody Puts Swayze in the Corner: The Tao of Swayze," from which he is donating 100 percent of the profits to the American Cancer Society.

The book's title refers to Swayze's line in Dirty Dancing when he walks into the ballroom and says, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner," gives a speech about standing up for others and leads Jennifer Grey's character into a dance.

The book (Vicious Books, $7.95), published this summer, matches quotes from ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who wrote the "Tao Ti Ching," about the relationship of man to the natural world, with lines from Swayze's movie career.

And the line about pain worked with this from the Tao: "Who recognizes his limitations is healthy; who ignores his limitations is sick. The Sage recognizes this sickness as a limitation. And so becomes immune."

And so it began.

Eder, 35, wasn't a writer -- that is until he was laid off in 2000.

"The day after I was laid off, I decided to write down everything I wish I had said to my boss," he said. "It felt like the start of something good, so I reshaped it and turned it into a novel."

He worked on the book sporadically, finally revisiting it again late last year, and came up with two books: the novel "Rorschach's Ribs" and "Nobody Puts Swayze in the Corner."

The Swayze book was a fictional concept in the actual novel he was writing, but once he heard early this year that the actor was sick with pancreatic cancer, it sounded like a viable project.

Some of the quotes are surprisingly parallel.

"No one ever wins a fight," Swayze said in Roadhouse. The Tao: "So slaughters must be mourned and conquest celebrated with a funeral."

Another from the Tao: "Nature says only a few words: high wind does not last long, nor does heavy rain. If nature's words do not last, why should those of man?" And from Swayze's surfing fanatic Bodhi in Point Break: "You talk too much."

"The whole (Point Break) script is riddled with a lot of Buddhism, and pretty much all the Eastern philosophy they could cram into one character," Eder said.

As a nod to its origin, Eder listed one of his fictional characters as author of the Swayze book. Eder is listed on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com as creator.

Vicious Books, an independent publishing collective in St. Louis, releases a few titles each year and does charitable events.

Eder is a man with many projects. He has his day job - ad copywriter and designer. And then his night job, in which he leads the Gothic Americana-style band Strawfoot as Reverend Marcus and either gives absolution or assures everyone they are going to hell. And then there's the book business.

"I want to do as much good as I do evil with the publishing company. I don't want it all to be gloom and doom," he said. "To release this book about Patrick Swayze while he's fighting cancer seems a little too opportunistic, and it just seemed like the right thing to do to raise money for a good cause."

"I think it paints his career in a pretty respectable light," said Eder.

The plot of "Rorschach's Ribs" is very dark.

A group of guys who work in advertising get laid off and start growing and selling pot to make ends meet because they can't find work in Bush's recession. They're friends with another guy whose wife is an underage East Side stripper who falls in love with another underage stripper who then become crackheads.

"It's a really dark, adult-oriented book," he said. "It's basically meant to be written for the generation X crowd, all the people that are kind of getting passed by the generation behind us because the generation in front of us won't let go. So this big exchange of power is going right over our heads."

He has sent a letter to Swayze's agent, so they know about the book, and he hopes to hear something from them.

"I don't plan on making a mint with any books, whether I take 100 percent profit or zero," though he admits it would be nice. "Then I wouldn't have to sit in a cubicle all day, sigh deeply and curse the government."

Miriam Moynihan is a St. Louis-based free-lance writer.  

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