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Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist

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I am not a fan of celeb biogs/memoirs/autobiogs and looking at my shelves I can't actually spot any other than Michael J. Fox's first autobiography, Lucky Man.


I bought and read Lucky Man mainly because I liked Michael J. Fox when I was younger and still held him in high regard as I got older. I found it profoundly sad that at such a young age he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Family Ties, the Back to the Future trilogy, Spin City, The Frighteners, Doc Hollywood, Bright Lights..., The Secret of My Success, Casualties of War are all favourites in the Hazel household, then and now. Subsequently, Lucky Man is one of my favourite reads. So when I read that MJF had a followup coming out, I rushed to get it and put it top of the TBR pile.


Always Looking Up, picks up immediately where LM leaves off, at the end of Michael's run on Spin City, when he realises that he will have to finish long-term acting. I remember watching that episode in floods of tears, )I know, such a big baby). I recall Michael at the end of the show running towards the studio audience in his letterman jacket. It was terribly bittersweet.


At the start, Michael (good boy MJ, no ghost-writer for you), tells us readers that this isn't a straightforward, chronological narrative. Mostly, it is, but he does go off on tangents and gives us little anecdotes and tales that both add nothing to his book and yet, add everything to your enjoyment.


He speaks of his family, mostly his son Sam, of who he is immensely proud, of his wife Tracy who really is his rock, and of his famous friends and acquaintances who have supported him and led to his foundation supporting Parkinson's research becoming the number 2 fundraiser for the disease (after the Federal goverment). He talks about his battles with George W Bush who vetoed stem cell research during his presidency and Rush Limbaugh. After Michael appeared at a congressional board meeting to persuade the stem cell research bill to be passed, Rush Limbaugh, on radio and subsequently TV, did impressions of Michael, claimed that because he was an actor that he was "putting on" the symptoms of his disease to gain sympathy for his political machinations.


And symptoms he has in spades. He is very candid and dignified when decribing what Parkinson's puts his body through on a day to day basis "like someone has reached in through his back, taken hold of his spine, and given him a good shake". His children asked what he was writing his book about, and if it was about him being "shaky dad".


Really this book is less about his battles with the disease and the political game-playing he feels compelled to do in the name of research, and more about the importance of family: Tracy and his 4 children. It's nice to read of a good Hollywood marriage - actually, it's just a good marriage. But mostly, it's about a cheeky imp who is still looking up and onwards.


Not just for MJF fans, this book is an happy, infectious, positive and enjoyable read.

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