Tag: Memoir

I Must Say Review (and Happy Birthday to Martin Short)

Author: Martin Short
AUDIOBOOK

Published: November 4, 2014
Dates Read: March 15-25, 2017

My Rating: 4 stars

Book Summary from Goodreads:

In this engaging memoir, written with heart, wisdom, and a huge helping of hilarity, Martin Short shares stories of his life, revealing how a Canadian kid obsessed with American show business became the comedian s comedian (“Vanity Fair”).

Martin Short is one of few celebrities in show business who has continually worked hard, found success, and maintained a normal, happy family life. His memoir is a reflection on his diverse collection of experiences, both hilarious and heartbreaking.

Short takes us through his career, from his early years with Second City Toronto and “Saturday Night Live” to his movie, stage, and television stardom. He recalls how he developed some of his enduring characters manic man-child Ed Grimley, elderly Tin Pan Alley songmith Irving Cohen, slimy lawyer Nathan Thurm, and the blubbery and bizarrely insensitive Jiminy Glick. Here, too, are his movie and television appearances, from the classic ” Three Amigos!” to his Emmy-nominated role in “Damages,” as well as his stage productions, including his Tony Award winning performance in “Little Me.” Throughout, such friends and luminaries as Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, John Candy, Gilda Radner, Lorne Michaels, Nora Ephron, Frank Sinatra, and others share the spotlight.

This deeply private man brings us into the circle of his family life, from raising his children to the legendary parties he and his wife hosted in their Los Angeles home. He recounts the pain of losing a brother and both parents by the time he was twenty and of the devastating death of Nancy, his wife of thirty years, in 2010. Despite the hardships, Short s life has been full of laughter, and he remains perennially upbeat. In this wise and entertaining memoir, he shares his irrepressible joy.”

My Review:

I listened to I Must Say in the audiobook format, which I highly recommend!  Martin Short narrates I Must Say himself. I will go into why I say to listen to it versus reading the memoir later in this review.

I Must Say is Martin Short’s memoir and he has definitely had a life so far!  He was born March 26th, 1950 in Canada (Happy Birthday today Martin Short!). From the beginning of his life you can see that he was always meant to be in the entertainment industry. He would tape record family arguments/ conversations as well as recording himself.  Despite most people believing he is Jewish, Short is actually Catholic, but was surrounded by Jewish friends and neighbors.

Martin suffered a lot of loss in his early life: He lost his older brother to a car accident when he was just twelve and by the time he was twenty he had lost both parents.  These losses greatly affected him.  He became friends with Eugene Levy, who was responsible for Martin getting into Hollywood.  Martin gave himself one year to try out show business. We all know how that turned out!

Martin goes through this career from early days to current as of him writing this memoir.  He goes into abundant details. He becomes friends with many Hollywood A-List celebrities and he mentions them all. At times the constant mentioning did feel like name dropping, but If I knew Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Kurt Russell, and more I would also mention those names!   He talks about his relationship with Gilda Radnor whom he dated for a few years before he dated his wife Nancy Dolman.   You  get a feel of what the Hollywood lifestyle is like as Martin describes with language the sex, drugs, and even rock-and-roll (Yes, he met George Harrison once).

Martin married Nancy on December 22, 1980 and they were married for almost 30 years until her death on August 21, 2010. You get the sense of how much he loved Nancy and still does today. Towards the end of the book when Martin is describing Nancy’s battle with cancer you can hear in his voice the emotion he still feels of this time in his life.  It is very touching and you can’t help but tear up listening to it. You can tell how much he still loves his wife today.

There are many reasons I recommend the audio version of this book. Again, Short himself narrates his memoir.  Who better to read your memoir than yourself?  His characters he is most famous for also make appearances in the audiobook. Hearing those characters’ voices makes the listener laugh as it is very enjoyable. Short does some singing as well and there is a piano accompaniment.  He also does impersonations of his friends very well.

I grew up knowing him best from Innerspace and also Father of the Bride, so I really enjoyed the memoir when he was talking about those movies. I learned a lot about Martin that I did not know.  For me, in some instances in the book he is giving too much detail into his life and some parts were a bit TMI (To Much Information). Some parts of the audiobook tended to drag on and I found myself tuning out at times.

Despite a few issues I had with the memoir, I highly recommend the audio version of I Must Say. It is worth listening to for hearing his characters and impressions alone!

Ghost Boy

Ghost Boy: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His Own Body

Author: Martin Pistorius with Megan Lloyd Davies
Audiobook

Published: November 19, 2013
Dates Read: January 17-27, 12017

My Rating: 3 Stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

They all thought he was gone. But he was alive and trapped inside his own body for ten years.

In January 1988 Martin Pistorius, aged twelve, fell inexplicably sick. First he lost his voice and stopped eating. Then he slept constantly and shunned human contact. Doctors were mystified. Within eighteen months he was mute and wheelchair-bound. Martin’s parents were told an unknown degenerative disease left him with the mind of a baby and less than two years to live.
Martin was moved to care centers for severely disabled children. The stress and heartache shook his parents’ marriage and their family to the core. Their boy was gone. Or so they thought.

Ghost Boy is the heart-wrenching story of one boy’s return to life through the power of love and faith. In these pages, readers see a parent’s resilience, the consequences of misdiagnosis, abuse at the hands of cruel caretakers, and the unthinkable duration of Martin’s mental alertness betrayed by his lifeless body.

We also see a life reclaimed—a business created, a new love kindled—all from a wheelchair. Martin’s emergence from his own darkness invites us to celebrate our own lives and fight for a better life for others.

My Review:

Ghost Boy is true story of Martin Pistorius. At 12 years old he became ill and eventually was not able to communicate and had to be an a wheelchair. His family was told he would die in less than two years. His family also believed he was not aware of what was going on around him and had less intelligence than a toddler. Martin did not die as doctors predicted, he continued to live. He eventually became aware of his surroundings but was still unable to communicate. This lasted over a decade until one of his caregivers believed he did have awareness. Over time, Martin was able teach himself to read and communicate via a computer. Despite his limited mobility, he was eventually able to get a job and find love.

This is a tragic story. The fact that is a real life story makes this a hard book to review as I had some issues with it. Those issues are what kept Ghost Boy from receiving a higher rating. The three star rating is a ‘good’ rating from me and there is nothing wrong with this rating. I will talk about the issues I had with the book and then a talk a little bit more about Ghost Boy.

The description of the book makes it appear that there was no form of communication from Martin at all. Indeed, at first he is not conscious however he later becomes self-aware, and eventually begins to communicate using a computer. Perhaps a different title and description would give the reader a better idea of what the book is actually about, or perhaps I just had the wrong impression.

Sadly, we still do not know what disease Martin has. He is still in a wheelchair and unable to speak without a computer to this day. I wish we had found out what his disorder was, though there are cases like this where we never discover what causes such a debilitating condition.

Some parts of the book Martin seemed to ramble on. Parts of the book could have been removed and it would not have affected the story. Another issue I had was that the book went back and forth in time. One chapter would take place in the past and the next would take place years later. This made Ghost Boy hard to follow at times, especially since I was listening to the audiobook. Occasionally the year or Martin’s age would be mentioned, but it was still difficult to follow. It just came off somewhat unorganized.

Martin’s story:
This is a tragic story. Imagine one day you wake up but can’t communicate or let anyone know that you know what’s going on. It could drive a person crazy but Martin dealt with this. He would be left in a room in front of a TV and ignored. People would do things in front of him that they wouldn’t normally do in front of someone because he was a ‘ghost boy’ who was invisible, when in fact he was conscious of everything going on.

*WARNING* Martin was mistreated by his caregivers in many ways. He was abused which he goes into detail about. There is also sexual abuse and rape, and he also gives graphic details. This could disturb some readers. It angered me to listen to this and you know that this happens all the time to the disabled and they may not be able to do anything about it.

Despite being unable to communicate I was surprised to hear Martin talk about his belief and faith in God. This was a welcome surprise. Somehow he knew about God and trusted and believed in Him. Through Martin’s experiences, he found a closeness with God as he could ‘talk’ with Him. In some way this may have saved Martin from going crazy not being able to communicate with people.

I found an article from June 2015 written by Martin’s wife that you may find it of interest, as I did. The article is from Redbook Magazine. After listening to Ghost Boy it was nice to read her perspective of events.

Despite the issues I had with Ghost Boy, I still recommend it. It is a story of resilience and strength that not many people may have. It also makes you think about the disabled who are not able to communicate. Are they actually fully aware of their surroundings or not? And if they could speak, what would they tell us?

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Operating on Faith

Author: Matt Weber
168 pages in Kindle

Published: 01/16/2016
Dates Read: December 22-27, 2016

My Rating: 4 Stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

“In sickness and in health . . .”

At age 29, Matt Weber was newly married to Nell, the girl of his dreams. They had bought their first house, adopted a dog, and looked forward to a blissful first year together. But shortly after his honeymoon, Matt’s recurring, severe stomach troubles send him to the emergency room—and after a five-hour, life-saving surgery in which a third of his stomach is removed, Matt and Nell’s plans for their new life are dramatically altered.

Forced to undergo a lengthy and painful recovery, Matt finds that his relationships with God, himself, and his wife are forever changed. Operating on Faith is the gutsy story of a happy-go-lucky Catholic guy whose life was literally burst apart then stitched back together—with faith in the God he’d always known, the sweet and inexhaustible love of his wife, and healthy if sometimes irreverent doses of humor.

For everyone who’s ever had plans and expectations upset by life’s events, Operating on Faith proves just how necessary love, faith, and a little grit are in facing major challenges and emerging on the other side.

My Review:

Operating on Faith is a memoir written by Matt Weber. At age 29 he got married, bought a house with his wife, honeymooned then had an emergency life changing surgery. You face a lot in your first year of marriage, but a health crisis is not what Matt or his wife had planned, especially being that young and never having health issues previously.

I am not Catholic, so I had never heard of Matt Weber. He had written a book before Operating on Faith called Fearing the Stigmata and is host of The CatholicTV Network series The Lens. I wanted to read Operating on Faith based on the premise of the book. I enjoyed it and I liked Matt’s writing style. He takes his writing with humor, including the introduction to the book and even the chapter titles. The chapters are short which makes the book a very quick one to read.

You can see the struggle that Matt and his wife face dealing with his multiple health crises. I say multiple as there is a second struggle for them that happens. Through it all Matt and his wife have their love for each other and their faith. There is definitely humor in that household and you can’t help but laugh at parts of the book, even through their frustrations.

The only negative that I could see with the book is that I am not Catholic, so there were a few things that I did not understand. For example, I found myself wondering what the importance of Pope Francis is to Catholics, and also what exactly a “black mass” is. I felt a little more explanation would have been nice for those not knowing about the Catholic religion.

I did enjoy Operating on Faith and would be interested in Reading Matt Weber’s first book, Fearing the Stigmata.

Operating on Faith is recommended.

I received a copy from NetGalley and Loyola Press.

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