Up Till Now
by William Shatner (with David Fisher)
I have always been vaguely aware of William Shatner, even before I realized he had played Captain Kirk. (Truthfully, I haven’t been much of a Trekkie until lately.) He popped up on television occasionally, and I knew that he worked on Boston Legal. It wasn’t until he released Has Been with Ben Folds that I really started taking notice of Shatner. This led to watching episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series and flipping out when he showed up at a Leonard Nimoy panel at Dragon*Con this year. (Let’s be honest- I was just one nerd among many when that happened.) I just love to hear him tell stories. He’s a wonderfully funny teller of tales, so I picked up this book to hear his own.
Much of Shatner’s wit and self-effacing humor is intact in Up Till Now. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, and Fisher is a nonentity in the memoir. The meandering opening is hilarious. While the stories are wonderfully placed, Shatner often interrupts himself to tell other stories that can be a bit annoying. This is especially prevalent when he writes about his early acting days in Canada, as if he’s worried the reader is more interested in his later work. He shouldn’t be worried. Shatner’s overwhelming filmography is fun to hear about, especially the series that have died on the table and his work in American film and television in the 1950s. He’s so successful and removed from it now that he can laugh about it.
This isn’t to say that Shatner’s life has always been successful and carefree. Instilled with a deep sense of responsibility by his father, Shatner recalls spending nights worrying if his acting career can support a wife and three daughters. There’s a long passage devoted to his third wife, an alcoholic who drowned tragically, and Shatner’s own misunderstanding of the nature of addiction. As Shatner is getting older, he’s been thinking about the more spiritual and metaphysical things in life, and doesn’t shy away from addressing them in the book. I was quite impressed with how the book manages to balance both the tragedy and the comedy, especially since the comedy is the majority.
It’s hard to distill down Shatner’s astonishingly busy career into 342 pages, and Shatner and Fisher have compromised by upping the pace. This is not a terribly in-depth memoir- if you’re looking for comprehensive tales from behind the scenes of Star Trek or Boston Legal, look elsewhere. Up Till Now goes through Shatner’s life at a steady trot. It’s wonderful to be able to have a very recent overview of Shatner’s life and career, but there are parts of the book I wish were longer or explored in more detail. I suppose I’ll work my way through Shatner’s other memoirs and nonfiction work. Get A Life! seems to be calling my name…
Bottom line: A brisk and fun trot through the life and times of William Shatner, Up Till Now only suffers from Shatner interrupting himself while he tells of his early career, as if he’s worried the reader wants to hear more about his later work.
I bought this book from Barnes & Noble.