Sunday, April 25, 2010

Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist

Fox, Michael J. (2009). Always looking up: the adventures of an incurable optimist.  New York: Hyperion.

My review

Get ready! Rev up your DeLorean for a short trip through time. Michael J. Fox's memoir of the last decade chronicles his transition from "Spin City" actor to passionate crusader in the fight against Parkinson's. His memoir is divided into four sections: "Work", "Politics", "Faith", and "Family".

The memoir opens with a strong and funny start, describing his average morning battle with Parkinson's. After founding the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Fox became a figure of political controversy for advocating for research on the potential of embryonic stem cells to cure Parkinson's.

His writing style is occasionally over-the-top (at one point, he jokingly refers to himself as "Mahatma J. Gandhi"). While the first two sections are strong, the areas on Faith and on Family can be interpreted as sentimental, and as focusing on trivial events. There is also no question that many people will take issue with his politics. This book is a worthwhile read for many reasons. It's written in a way that people can see a human face behind Parkinson's, and it sheds light on the politics behind research and change.

My notes
I picked up this book because I used to enjoy "Back to the Future." I still struggle with the ethical implications of embryonic stem cell research, but have high hopes for the future in science and research.

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