Christopher Reeve has beaten the odds before. He scored his first role in a Euripides play at 15, costarred with Katharine Hepburn at 22, and was one of two advanced-program students accepted at Juilliard, to which 2,000 drama students annually apply. (The other advanced student became his best friend, Robin Williams.) Reeve rode a sailplane to 32,000 feet over Pikes Peak, fell 90 feet from a parasail harness into four feet of water and walked away. He survived emergency appendectomy, malaria in Kenya, and the disastrous film Changing Channels
, with Burt Reynolds. He flew vintage airplanes upside down. On his first solo transatlantic flight, a radar controller informed him he was about to run out of gas 200 miles west of Iceland. The radar controller had misread his screen, and Reeve landed safely.
Then, in 1995, his horse balked at a 3-foot-3-inch racecourse fence, made an abrupt "dirty stop," Reeve's hands got tangled in the reins, he landed on his head and got a "hangman's injury"--a broken neck. Ace paramedics got oxygen to him 60 seconds before brain damage set in, and a helicopter named Pegasus lofted him to a hospital.
Reeve was already important. His interpretation of Superman was classic, and his starring role in The Bostonians launched the Merchant/Ivory school of filmmaking. But it was not until his paralysis that Reeve really got moving as a public figure of the first rank. As his memoir Still Me details, since the accident, Reeve has directed his first film, started the Christopher Reeve Foundation to fund spinal-cord-repair research, lobbied Congress, and crisscrossed the country on speaking engagements.
Says Reeve, "Lindbergh made it across the Atlantic [where he was feted by Reeve's grandma]; Houdini got out of those straitjackets; with enough money and grass-roots support, why shouldn't I be able to get out of this wheelchair?" Part Hollywood reminiscence, part scientific detective story, and part soapbox speech, Still Me explains the tantalizing but quite real possiblity that Reeve (and a quarter-million other paralyzed people, plus 49 million disabled Americans) may get back on their feet. Bobby Kennedy once tried to bolster Reeve's faith by saying, "Just fake it till you make it. The prayers will seem phony, but one day they'll become real." Christopher Reeve has more than a prayer, he has a program. He ain't fake, and he just might make it, leading a cast of millions. --Tim Appelo
From Publishers Weekly
Its poignant jacketAdepicting Reeve in his wheelchair, back to the camera, facing a hillside cast in dreamy greens and purplesAwill by itself propel this book into readers' hands. The words behind the picture are equally potent, however. Reeve has produced a memoir that's outspoken, wise and tremendously moving. The contours of Reeve's career are well known: the meteoric rise in the late 1970s from obscurity to superstardom as Superman; years of celebrity followed by lesser roles and fame; the riding accident that left Reeve a quadriplegic; the comeback through directing HBO's Into the Gloaming; the work on behalf of the disabled and spinal cord research. Reeve covers it all, shuttling back and forth in time, giving just enough detail about his earlier yearsAincluding a frank assessment of his parents and upbringing and lightly enjoyable anecdotes of his relationships with Robin Williams, Katharine Hepburn and other luminariesAto background the book's main act: the accident and its aftermath. Writing in a clean, even matter-of-fact style that renders his words all the more devastating for their lack of bathos, Reeve reveals the intimacies of his plight: the confusion and terror as he learned of his situation; a disorienting out-of-body experience in an operating room; the humiliating adjustment to reliance upon others in order to eat, breathe, live; the shift of the center of gravity of his being from self-service to the serving of others. No doubt, Reeve is "still me"Abut readers of his beautifully composed book will see that he is now also moreAthat through nearly unimaginable suffering and effort, he has transformed a charmed life into one blessed to be a true profile in courage. Photos. 350,000 first printing; first serial to People; simultaneous large-print edition and AudioBook, read by Reeve. (May) FYI: Random placed an embargo on any reviews of Still Me until May 3rd.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.