Book Review – Lucky Man: A Memoir by Michael J. Fox

Lucky Man: A Memoir by Michael J. Fox

Lucky Man: A Memoir by Michael J. Fox

The blurb says:

A funny, highly personal, gorgeously written account of what it’s like to be a 30-year-old man who is told he has an 80-year-old’s disease.

“Life is great. Sometimes, though, you just have to put up with a little more crap.” –Michael J. Fox

In September 1998, Michael J. Fox stunned the world by announcing he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease — a degenerative neurological condition. In fact, he had been secretly fighting it for seven years. The worldwide response was staggering. Fortunately, he had accepted the diagnosis and by the time the public started grieving for him, he had stopped grieving for himself. Now, with the same passion, humor, and energy that Fox has invested in his dozens of performances over the last 18 years, he tells the story of his life, his career, and his campaign to find a cure for Parkinson’s.

Combining his trademark ironic sensibility and keen sense of the absurd, he recounts his life — from his childhood in a small town in western Canada to his meteoric rise in film and television which made him a worldwide celebrity. Most importantly however, he writes of the last 10 years, during which — with the unswerving support of his wife, family, and friends — he has dealt with his illness. He talks about what Parkinson’s has given him: the chance to appreciate a wonderful life and career, and the opportunity to help search for a cure and spread public awareness of the disease. He is a very lucky man, indeed.

I think this is the first biography I’ve read. It was a lot more personal than I was expecting – we don’t really think of famous people in any other context than how we’ve experienced them. We think we know them because we’ve seen them over the course of our lives, but we don’t often think that it’s over the course of their lives too. In the case of performers what we’ve seen isn’t even the real person, just the performance. It was very enlightening.

I had expected biographies to be more linear, but this one jumps around a lot. I suppose it’s the way we’d tell a story if we were recounting it out loud – referring to past events that relate to each part of the story.

The only criticism I have of the book is that it starts off saying that Fox is a lucky man in spite of (because of) his diagnosis.  It’s quite a bold statement and (as it’s also the title) seems to be the theme of the book.  Given this, it felt like the biography should book-end by explaining why all of the things that happened to him make him feel lucky, but it doesn’t.

Since reading this book I’ve looked at actors differently – instead of blaming them for movies that flop I try to see what they were trying to do by picking that role.