"I'm hardly the first person to notice that there is only the present, constantly," writes Barton in this extraordinary memoir. "The present moment is lived, and relieved; written, and rewritten. Every previous version still inhabits it." What gives this insight and the many others that follow uncommon power is the ever present fact that Barton, a pioneering entrepreneur in the cable television industry, was dying of stomach cancer as he wrote them. Alternating chapters with mystery writer Shames (The Naked Detective), Barton, who died in September, 2002, at 51, offers us-and his wife and three children-his final rewrite of a life filled with the optimism and idealism of his generation. Barton tells us how it feels to die while the party is still raging, offering us glimpses of a life that packed in everything from being a professional ski bum to working as an aide to New York State governor Hugh Carey to huge success as a visionary businessman (Barton helped found MTV, among other achievements). Readers will be knocked out by his honesty and his utter lack of self-pity or sentimentality. The "gift" of terminal cancer, according to Barton, is that "it doesn't kill you all at once. It gives you time to set your house in order.... It gives you time to think, to sum things up." Setting his house in order included taking his family for a balloon ride at dawn. Summing up what matters, he reminds us that it is the large and small moments of pleasure and love, those very present moments, that redeem us in the end. This is a very beautiful book about how to live.