BookBin2011: Up Till Now

One of my personal word nerd-related pet peeves is the use of the word “till” in the place of the word “until” or “to.” It’s silly, I know, but it’s right there with the phrase “a whole nother.” Perhaps this is simply me showing my American-ness, but it just feels wrong. Wrong to say, wrong to write, wrong to read.

Needless to say, when I first saw the title of William Shatner’s autobiography, Up Till Now, I admittedly cringed inside.

Of course, what self-respecting Trek fan wouldn’t want to read Shatner’s autobiography, right? Okay, I have a confession. I’m not that much of TOS fan. What? I was born in the 70s. My Trek Attention Span is pretty much from TNG to Voyager (sorry, Sam, but I know way more about your Leaping than your Enterprising). I am nearly finished with watching all of the original episodes, but my heart remains in the 24th century.

That being said, I also remember growing up in the era of anti-Shatnerism. I remember the SNL “Get a Life” skit and the subsequent nerd fallout. I remember all the rumors about how the rest of the TOS cast hated Captain Kirk, about how he was self-absorbed and a bit of a dick.

Obviously, I came to this autobiography carrying a great deal of Shatner baggage. And I’m not even a fan of the original series!!

I’m so glad I got over my preconceived notions of Shatner, because this is a remarkable read. Shatner is Shatner, of course. Has he changed? Or has our perception of him changed? I don’t know, really. To hear him tell it, he was just misunderstood for a long time. Perhaps that’s true. Or perhaps time smoothed out the wrinkles. Or perhaps it’s because he is quite possibly the most ubiquitous performer alive today. There are very few entertainment corners into which he has not beamed his uniquely Shatnerian light: movies, television, music, theater, advertising…let’s face it, when you’re the Big Giant Head, you can’t help but be everywhere:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMUX_f0hyn0&w=480&h=390]

Whatever it is, I devoured this book. Starting from his childhood in Montréal, Shatner takes us through every high and low of his life “up till now.” He talks of his time in theater, his myriad guest spots on television, “There’s something on the wing!,” his breakthrough to the Geek World via Captain Kirk, Esperanto, melting faces, Thomas Jefferson Hooker, horses, the day Nichelle Nichols told him she and the rest of the Enterprise crew “despised him,” his marriages, Leonard Nimoy’s alcoholism (yeah, at points, this almost turned into Shatner writing Nimoy’s biography!), crazy escapades along the way, Denny Crane, Priceline, KHANNNN!!!, Rocket Man, Howard Stern, Whydo people…thinkItalk…funny?, African safaris, loss, love, and life in general. All told with an inimitable Shatnerian candor, style, and panache.

Is it all true? Maybe. Is it all as he believes it to be? Absolutely. Is it worth reading? Oh, how worth it it is. It’s worth it right down to the very last line…which I have to admit, left me laughing for about 10 minutes after I read it.

Say what you will about Shatner but he has made an indelible imprint on the entertainment industry that will more than likely remain unchallenged for the rest of our lifetimes. This autobiography gives us just a glimpse behind the curtain, but it’s definitely worth the peak.

Final Verdict: This was a library find, so it goes back the next time I pay my respects to the House of Free Literature, but I shall be keeping a lookout for a marked-down copy for my very own.