- Hardcover: 309 pages
- Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (April 25, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679452354
- ISBN-13: 978-0679452355
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 104 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #374,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Still Me Hardcover – April 25, 1998
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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.
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I searched every nook and cranny for my pristine, hardback, first-edition copy of Reeve’s autobiography, and to my horror realized that in a harrying period of downsizing nineteen months ago, I donated it to a local public library, apparently. I remember weighing the pros and cons of holding on to it, and I was sure I decided in its favor—but…oh well. I have experienced this same gut-wrenching regret over the donation of other precious books that held places of honor in my formerly extensive library. Oh, the awful things life too often forces us to do! I ordered another copy of it, and my second reading of it reminded me of what a good and important book Still Me is. I will state at the outset, just to get it out of the way, that its only drawback that I can see is its title. As explained in the book, the title derives from Reeve’s wife Dana’s assurance to him following the accident that despite everything, he was still the same person, and she would be with him forevermore. Regardless, from the moment I first heard the title, it also suggested to me a double entendre on Reeve’s “stilled” condition. No matter the motivation behind it, it is an unfortunate title, in my opinion. However, it is the first and last mistake in this significant, well-written, non-fiction book.
Reeve begins his life story with the following: “A few months after the accident I had an idea for a short film about a quadriplegic who lives in a dream. During the day, lying in his hospital bed, he can’t move, of course. But at night he dreams that he’s whole again, and is able to do anything and go everywhere. This is someone who had been a lifelong sailor, and who had always loved the water, and he had a beautiful gaff-rigged sloop. Not like my boat, the Sea Angel, which was modern and made of fiberglass. In the story the boat is a great old wooden beauty, whose varnish gleams in the moonlight…In his dream he sails down the path of a full moon, and there’s a gentle breeze, perfect conditions—the kind of romantic night sailing that anyone can imagine. But by seven in the morning, he’s back in his bed in the rehab hospital and everything is frozen again…” He goes on to relate the entire idea, and then says“…But the way out is through your relationships. The way out of that misery or obsession is to focus more on what your little boy needs or what your teenagers need or what other people around you need. It’s very hard to do, and often you have to force yourself. But that is the answer to the dilemma of being frozen—at least it’s the answer I found.”
Throughout the book, just when the inner workings of the agonizing daily routine of his “frozen” existence as he describes it, is in danger of treading territory too heartbreaking for the reader to bear, Reeve turns to lighter fare. He embarks on a spellbinding, often funny, always moving, treatise of his life before his disability, including his bittersweet childhood as a product of divorced parents, his triumphs in sports, his first-rate college education, his advocacy for funding of the arts, his seemingly anointed pathway to acting, for many years on stage, both in classical and contemporary productions, and then in films, with his role as Superman skyrocketing him to stardom. The breadth and diversity of his acting career was a revelation to me, so attuned was I to him as Clark Kent in Superman, to the romantic lead Richard Collier in the cult film Somewhere in Time, and to the American Congressman Jack Lewis in the British film The Remains of the Day. He takes us into his ten-year relationship with the mother of his two older children Matthew and Alexandra, teenagers at the time of the release of the book. And then to Dana, and although his beloved, his commitment issues threatened to sabotage their love. His humanity came through most clearly with his admission of that weakness in himself, but true to the pattern of his life, he set out to rid himself of that flaw. He sought counseling, and it worked. He and Dana married and bore their son William. For the first time, he was happy in his personal life, for the first time as well, gave it precedence over his career and sporting life. The accident occurred only three years into their marriage.
His disability ceaselessly tugged at him to be told, however, and with flawless timing and immaculate taste, he returned to the subject of paralysis as a result of spinal cord trauma, interspersing his personal trials and triumphs pertaining to it with a generalized discussion of spinal cord injury, its modes of treatment and its ramifications. An in-depth review of his new life is included—his return to his film career, and his use of his celebrity to become an ambassador for all victims of the disability—fund-raising for the American Paralysis Association, and other such entities, as well as a consistent program of lobbying Congress for funds devoted to research, for insurance reform, among other things. His speaking itinerary was so full that his previous life seemed almost static by comparison. In this way, he continued his financial support of his family. His crowning achievement was the foundation he and Dana formed—The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Paralysis Research Center which is dedicated to raising funds for medical research of and—ultimately—a cure for spinal cord injury paralysis—Toll Free (800) 539-7309; International Callers (973) 467-8270 – www.christopherreeve.org. Matthew and Alexandra serve on the board of directors of the foundation.
The format of the book is spot-on. Reeve merged his past and present seamlessly. It is like a father and son gently lobbing a ball back and forth, or a duet between Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga—divergent in every possible way other than the matched quality of their voices and their mirrored urgency to tell their individual versions of the same story.
I wish I had known Christopher Reeve—I wish I had been his associate, his pal. His was a purposeful life—a life well-lived.
Imagine him Acting, Directing, Producing, Screen Writing, Writing Books, Running a Foundation, and lobbying for funding for Researches for Cures not only for Paralysis but also other incurable diseases as well, and he has done All of these while paralyzed. Indeed this is Proof that he is The Real, True, and One and Only Superman of All Time!!!
This inspired both P.W.D.'s and Common People alike to do what they can in life and always Go Forward!!! Cause that's s what Superman stands for: A symbol of Hope and inspiration to People to All Over the World that Nothing is Impossible!!!
That's why the title of the book is Still Me because he has shown the world that no matter who ever Don's the cape and suit, Christopher Reeve Was, Still, Always and Forever Will be Superman!!!!