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Review of Lucky Man - Michael J. Fox
Becoming immersed into movies during the 80s one of the first stars to grab my attention was Michael J. Fox an actor who appealed as much to women as he did men. From the first time I watched "Back to the Future" through to other movies such as "Doc Hollywood" and "The Hard Way" there was something about Michael J. Fox which appealed to me, which wanted him to be my best friend. Then in 1998 the big news broke that he was suffering from Parkinson's Disease and had been living with the debilitating illness for some years, yet despite this you watched a man who didn't let it beat him. This leads me to his memoir “Lucky Man” a wonderful book which covers so much of Fox’s life.
Before I mention what is in "Lucky Man" it's worth mentioning, and it hits you with some impact, that Fox himself wrote this memoir, there's no ghostwriter, no person giving their own feelings on his career, what you read are Fox's own words, his feelings and his memories. It makes it not only a very personal account of his own life, the ups and downs of fame but also very natural. You sit there reading his words and it is like Fox himself is there telling you all about his life in person, face to face with a candidness and honesty that you don't always expect from such a huge star but also with a touch of self-deprecating humour.
As is often the case with memoirs and biographies much of "Lucky Man" covers Fox's life from his childhood whereas a son of a service man he got use to the occasional change of residence as he was posted across various army bases. It predictably continues through his teens where he tried to be a rock star, his love of drama at school and of course the big break into TV. But being Fox's own words you really get a sense of emotion as he recollects over events in his formative years, his nana who you get a real sense that he adored as well as the dynamics of the family.
Moving on from his formative years "Lucky Man" obviously covers Fox's career with his rise to celebrity in "Family Ties" as well as various movies, along with what life was like for Fox when he was a struggling actor as well as the insane life he lead when fame struck. Its eye opening when Fox regales us with anecdotes about how crazy stardom can be such as when he was caught speeding he barely got a slap on the hand because of who he was. But the fascinating element to all this is that the whole time Fox was trying to comprehend why he should be treated so differently, why could he do pretty much what he liked and did he deserve all of this.
Plus of course there is the more personal side, his marriage to Tracy and the family. But rather than being all out in the open it is very evident that Fox is protective of all his family and that includes brother, sister and mother as well as his father who sadly passed away. As such much of the intimate stuff which many celebrities are more than happy to reveal Fox rightly holds back. In an enlightening anecdote he tells about the madness of his wedding, where the press determined to get a picture did everything and anything to crash the proceeding, yet he never goes into the personal details of it which in fact is quite nice.
But that is all the stuff you expect from any memoir yet "Lucky Man" delivers more and one of the biggest surprises is Fox's revelations that he had trouble with alcohol. It's a side of the actor you would never expect but in an open account of what life was like we learn about how he would down a bottle of wine or go on major benders waking up the next day without a clue as to what he did the night before. Fox is surprisingly open about all this as well as the emotions of a career which was floundering and the sense of failure he was feeling. You get a real sense that he was on the edge of a cliff nearly being another celebrity statistic as the pressure and drinking was getting to him.
The biggest part of "Lucky Me" is his account of Parkinson Disease, from the initial trembling pinkie which highlighted an issue, through to the bigger trembles, the medication, the brain surgery and so on as well as the lengths he went to keep this problem hidden from the public till he was ready to make it public. It's a fascinating account which helps to build awareness of the disease, from the symptoms to look for, the different types of medication and also the research into finding a cure for the disease which hopefully won't be too far away. The whole time you read his account there is no attempt to look for pity but to show how it affects you both physically and mentally.
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One thing which does strike you is that in a life which has had ups and downs Fox can look back on it with out any regrets in fact he can see the funnier side of some of the things he did, which to me is a mark of man who can laugh at himself.
If you want a glossy celebrity biography where the star digs the dirt and name drops his way through 300 pages then "Lucky Man" is not the book for you. But if you want a candid account of a celebrity life, written by that celebrity and who in doing so delivers a brilliant read full of personal anecdotes, revelations and humour than "Luck Man" is for you. My only criticism and this is a really minor niggle and that is unlike other biographies which I have read Fox writes chapters which are often 50 pages long making it a book which can swallow up your time if you like to read a chapter at a time.