Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Real life is always better than fiction

When I was in my teens, I went through a serious biography phase. It was all I read. Specifically, biographies of old movie stars (I was going through a parallel phase involving watching old movies on TVO Saturday nights). Greta Garbo, Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart and Cary Grant were all favourites. I read Mommy Dearest which was so horrifying, I still have trouble watching Joan Crawford films. Lana Turner's autobiography was as scandalous as any National Enquirer issue.

I don't know why, but I went off biographies for a long time. For some reason, I'm inching my way back in. I was recommended Barbara Walters' Audition and I saw a documentary based on Michael J. Fox's second memoir Always Looking Up, both of which caught my fancy.

I really didn't know much about Barbara Walters and found her memoir very interesting and engaging with a teensy bit of gossipy which I loved. Her childhood was fascinating - a rags to riches to rags to riches story. Her career and ambition are inspiring to women everywhere. She has met and been friends with some of the most interesting people in history. I enjoyed her style: easy and conversational. It was as if I could actually hear her telling the stories. Sometimes I felt like I was reading a Barbara Walters special with her sweeping statements and grand allusions. While that gets annoying when I'm watching her on tv, it didn't really bother me at all when reading her. Highly recommend this as a very entertaining read.

Similarly, I loved Always Looking Up. I've always been a Michael J. Fox fan. Alex P. Keaton was totally hot. Fox had a bit of the bad boy in him which makes him even more yummy (he is very open about his challenges with alcohol). When I watch him on television being interviewed, though it disturbs me to watch him shifting and shimmying uncontrollably due to his Parkinsons, there is still something extremely attractive about him. Maybe it's that he still loves hockey. Anyway...

His writing style is not the smoothest or most polished and that is what makes the book so likeable. He doesn't mind swearing (love that) and he is unfailingly honest about where his has come from, why he makes the choices he does, how he lives with his disease, his love for his family and his determination to figure out a way to treat and cure Parkinsons. This book is incredibly motivational and inspiring without being grandiose.

Real life (particularly involving very cool people) is always more interesting than fiction.


Barbara Walters
Knopf Doubleday

Always Looking Up
Michael J. Fox