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"Up Till Now" by William Shatner

I recently finished reading William Shatner's autobiography Up Till Now. He has lived a very full and interesting life. My life is pretty dull by comparison, and if you restrict it to my reading life it's even duller. Nevertheless, the story of how I acquired this book is still worth telling.

I bought  it from the used book store I frequent and occasionally write about here. I always buy too many books when I go in there, and on the day I bought this I was determined to leave the store with only one book The Shatner book looked like it would be a fun read, especially since the back cover promised an amusing anecdote about an amorous gorilla. Whether it's Wise Blood or Planet Of The Apes, any story is made more lively if you throw in a gorilla.

But Shatner's memoir was not the only one that caught my eye. There was a copy of Somerset Maugham's memoir The Summing Up which looked intriguing. I knew I could learn a lot about what it takes to be a great man of letters from this book. And I was sure it would be more intellectually stimulating than Shatner's book. On the other hand, there were probably no gorilla stories.

I then considered that I could buy one of these books on my next trip back. So I asked myself which book was less likely to still be there in two weeks. It was an easy question to answer.

The Shatner book proved to be worth the (cheap) purchase price and the time spent reading it. The gorilla anecdote did not disappoint and there were a couple of good critter stories. He once hunted a brown bear with a bow and arrow, and there's a really good story that involves an elephant.

Of course there's a lot of discussion of his show business career. Much of it is about things that anyone with access to media would know about (Star Trek, Priceline commercials, etc.) but there was some interesting early history I didn't know about. One of his early films was Incubus,a film  shot entirely in Esperanto.He also appeared in Roger Corman's The Intruder, a 1962 film about racial tensions in the south. This was interesting because you don't associate the names Corman and Shatner with hard-hitting social criticism.

There was one surprising omission. He made no mention of his 1961 film The Explosive Generation, where he played a high school teacher who riled up the town by teaching sex education. I'm guessing that since the film's premise, that sex education is really controversial, is so dated he was embarrassed to write about it.

Up Till Now proved to be an informative and enjoyable read. At times it was even thought-provoking, although probably not as much as the Maugham autobiography would have been. Still, I think I made the right decision.