Monday, March 22, 2021

Book Review: No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality by Michael J. Fox (audiobook)

I wasn't entirely sure what this book was going to be. I've already read Mr. Fox's first memoir, and it seemed like perhaps he'd already used up the best material as this is now his fourth memoir, but like the great memoirists out there, he has an interesting life and an even more interesting take on it. 

Yes, he is a movie and TV star who in the 1980s starred in some of the biggest shows there were. And yes, we all now know of his early diagnosis with Parkinson's Disease, forcing his semi-retirement from acting (but boy he was good on The Good Wife. He points out that Parkinson's has made him switch from leading man to character actor, which is so much more interesting and I agree.) What I did not know was that he also had a tumor on his spine (seriously, can he catch a break?) And had to have surgery to remove it, which could have paralyzed him. Instead, it was successful, but took months of rehab and round-the-clock nurses and help from family. And then, he fell and badly broke his arm. Back to rehab he went. 

His stalwart wife Tracey gets (and deserves) a lot of praise, as do his four kids who seem just terrific. But also, as the subtitle hints, his own optimistic attitude has been a big boon in his multiple recoveries and his continued slow decline. He's not Pollyannaesque--he doesn't see the world through rose colored glasses. It's more that he doesn't see the point in wallowing or dwelling on bad things that can't be changed. In this book however, he does start to experience some real depression for the first time. Maybe it's all the setbacks. Maybe it's seeing himself as old for the first time. Maybe it's seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is closer... meaning the tunnel isn't all that long anymore. Probably a little bit of all of these.

But as light as a celebrity memoir can be, this one was at time truly profound. In fact, I found myself thinking that this is a book I would want to revisit, particularly if I'm ever deathly ill or experiencing some kind of medical issue, as I really appreciate his attitude and outlook and I'm sure I could use a reminder at a time like that. 

I love his humor, his golfing, his family's love of travel (and refusal to leave him behind, especially as my own parents get older and travel is more difficult.) Come for Marty McFly, and leave with a better perspective on life.

I listened to this book on audio. I wasn't sure if Michael reading it himself was even going to be possible (initially the publisher thought it wouldn't be) and as I heard him read an earlier memoir and the audio was at that time very influenced by his Parkinson's. He was able to, and if anything, he seems to have more control now, even if his rhythm and cadence are obviously changed from Alex P. Keaton days. But it did make for an excellent read, as is so often the case with celebrity memoirs.

This book is published by Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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