I’m a history buff, and not much into pop culture or modern celebrities. Each time I look through movie listings, I have to keep asking my son if the star of the latest Hollywood flick is well known. But I’m also a sucker for feel-good stories that show someone overcoming the odds, and doing so with a modicum of joy and peace. So when Amazon offered Michael J. Fox’s decade-old biography Lucky Man to me for $2, I clicked the Download button without much hesitation.
For those looking for a star-studded book, full of dropped names and the latest gossip on who slept with whom, there is a lot of disappointment to be had in these pages. Fox, of course, has rubbed shoulders, sometimes unconsciously, with famous people. Former Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos gets a surprise mention; Alan Alda shows up twice. But Fox didn’t write Lucky Man to wow you with stories of his Hollywood career. Christopher Lloyd, his costar in the Back to the Future franchise, for example, isn’t mentioned at all. Instead, the star of this book, in addition to Fox’s immediately family, is Parkinson’s disease, or as Fox calls it, P.D.
The book includes the obligatory history of the autobiographical author’s life. You find out quite a bit about his parents and siblings, and especially his grandmother Nana. But all of that background exists to help the reader understand how P.D. impacted Fox as both a person and an actor, and why he made each decision he did in terms of treatment, disclosure, and even denial. Fox’s descriptions of the specific symptoms he encountered, the types of medication involved in symptom treatment, and even (spoiler alert) his brain surgery experience were clear and meaningful for readers, like me, who know those with the same brain disorder.
Lucky Man is by no means a literary classic. But for anyone looking for a pleasant read from a cultural icon that contains actual respect for the human condition instead of the low-IQ drivel parsed out by current pop culture fads and their ghostwriters, Michael J. Fox’s 2002 biography is still a meaningful and timely read.