No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality is the fourth memoir written by Emmy-winning actor Michael J. Fox.
I’ve had my copy of the hardcover book since probably 2020. Unfortunately, I only read it over the past few weeks and finished reading it early this past week. Let me just say that Fox’s fourth memoir makes for solid companion reading to the new documentary on Apple TV+, STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie, directed by Davis Guggenheim.
The actor had initially been diagnosed a few years before starring on Spin City on ABC. A few years after stepping away from the screen and starting up the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the actor begin his second life as a character actor. He earned Emmy nominations for his appearances on Rescue Me, Boston Legal, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The Good Wife. Rescue Me would earn him his only win.
It’s making the rounds right now because of the STILL press tour but Fox opens up in his memoir about the film that led him to retire from acting. By 2020, Parkinson’s had impacted both his memory and speech to a point in which he decided to “enter a second retirement.” His comments come on page 210 in the hardcover edition. Fox references Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood when discussing his retirement. It turns out that the scene where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character keeps forgetting is lines is when it really started hitting home for him. But where DiCaprio’s character berated himself, Fox chooses not to self-excoriate. Even now, Fox writes that his work as an actor does not define him.
The nascent diminishment in my ability to download words and repeat them is just the latest ripple in the pond. There are reasons for my lapses in memorization–be they age, cognitive issues with the disease, distraction from the constant sensations of Parkinson’s, or lack of sensation because of the spine–but I read it as a simple message, an indicator. There is a time for everything, and my time of putting in a twelve-hour workday, and memorizing seven pages of dialogue, is best behind me. At least for now.
Of everything discussed in his fourth memoir, there are two events that take up a solid chunk of pages. These are his back surgery and broken hand. Months after his back surgery, Fox would suffer a terrible fall in the kitchen and end up breaking his hand. While one cannot help but feel for him, it happens on the same morning in which he was going to cameo in See You Yesterday. Following his recovery, the cast and crew would reunite for a one-day reshoot. The scene is worth it just for the Fox cameo and his muttering, “Time Travel. Great scott.” It’s an awesome Back to the Future easter egg. Fox also writes about family vacations to Martha’s Vineyard and surprising his mother in Canada for her birthday.
The book runs 231 pages before we reach the acknowledgements section. If you’re look me, you can read the book at a really quick pace. Some chapters are maybe ten pages while others are longer. It is very possible to zip through 100 pages at a time. Maybe that’s because Michael J. Fox’s voice was playing in my head as I read the book, which really makes for a quicker read.
No Time Like the Future is a must-read celebrity memoir not just because it is written by Michael J. Fox but because one is still able to find the hope and resilience even when going against the odds. It is a book that is written with humor and puts readers inside his headspace even as he fights an incurable disease.
No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality is available in bookstores everywhere.
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