Sunday, September 20, 2009
Always Looking Up
Michael J. Fox astounds me because he has never given up despite his disease. I never got the chance to read Fox's first memoir, Lucky Man, but I did just finish his second memoir which is pretty new right now, Always Looking Up: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist.
I got to listen to this book on tape with Fox actually reading it himself, which I found extremely powerful. You could hear his emotion when times were tough and you could hear the lightness in his voice when moments were funny. The experience was pretty intense because it felt much more personal because I was actually hearing him discuss his problems.
Further, I didn't know too much about Parkinson's Disease anyway, so I got to hear some first-hand accounts of what it's like to live with this. I couldn't imgaine having to transform my life to the degree that Fox has. It's sad that he's had to make so many lifestyle changes to accomodate his situation, especially when he had to give up a television show he loved to produce and act on when he left Spin City.
I found it sad listening to Fox talk about leaving Spin City since he loved it so much, especially since it continued on without him. Charlie Sheen replaced him, which must have been hard to watch. But, it was hard for Fox to juggle his active television career and with taking his meds and controlling his shakes. He wouldn't be able to stop, once he was walking, and communicate with someone because he wouldn't be able to control his bodily functions. Cast members thought he was mad at them, and that's when Fox knew it was time to move on.
Also, I enjoyed hearing about Fox's personal life and how his disease affects his family. Fox tells a lot of stories about his wife and her acceptance of his decisions regarding his disease and about his children and how it affects them. A lot of focus was placed on their eldest son Sam and how he has viewed the disease.
But, I saw this book as Fox's second memoir on PD, and even though some of it was on PD, a lot of it was just on his life in general without dwelling too much on the effects of PD. A lot of the book was just on his family life and politics surrounding PD research and his organization. Perhaps Lucky Man deals more with Fox and dealing with PD, but Always Looking Up takes it a step further into his personal life and his life post-Lucky Man.
Fox even gets into some personal stories like how he went through September 11th. He was across the country, about to guest star on Spin City in California after being gone from it for a couple of years, and he heard about the attacks. His family lives, works, and goes to school in New York City, so he panicked. He cancelled being on the show and looked to travel back to NYC, but all flights were cancelled for weeks. So, Fox rented a car and drove across the country with a friend. Family counts more than other things.
Fox also details such personal incidences as travelling across the country with his son when he was young, experiencing the birth of his twin daughters, and experiencing the death of his oldest sister. His sister was hooked up on machines to keep her alive, and they had to make the tough decision whether they should let her loose or not. These moments are all intertwined throughout the memoir.
I also didn't know that Fox was involved in politics, an organization, and trying to advocate for PD research with stem cells. A significant portion of the book is dedicated to this facet. I like that Fox is using his publicity and his finances to not only help himself but help others like himself that are affected with the disease. I also learned, through his discussions on the organization, that Ali has PD too! You'd never think that such strong people could be hindered by something like this.
Overall, the memoir seems to be focused on his struggle with PD, but a lot of it had random details and stories just about his life, which I didn't mind too much. If you're interested in PD or about Fox's life, this book should interest you.
I saw there was a TV special on the memoir, but I missed it. What was it about?
So what do you think of Always Looking Up: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist?