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November 12, 2009

Men I Love: First in a Series

Today's book and tomorrow's book are about as different as books can be, but they share one trait: they are both about men I really, really like. "Love" was probably a little strong, but sometimes I just like to get your attention.

Swayze I am on record as a certified Patrick Swayze fan. I was, therefore, quite excited to find my copy of his (and his wife Lisa Niemi's) book The Time of My Life waiting for me at the library the day before yesterday. So excited, as a matter of fact, that I blew through it yesterday. (It's not a dense text, and it's got two sections of photos.) And, my high opinion of Patrick remains intact. If anything, I'm even more impressed with him than ever. I hadn't known anything about his dancing and ballet career (which ended when a serious knee injury, suffered during high school football, become too much of a problem to ignore) or his longtime marriage to Niemi (no small feat in show business).

The writing's nothing to write home about, but it's serviceable. It's not overwrought, I'll give it that, and for a man who's writing about his life and career while trying to beat pancreatic cancer,* that's pretty impressive. And then there's stories like this:

"We did a lot of rewriting for the big final scene [in Dirty Dancing], but one line that I absolutely hated ended up staying in. I could hardly even bring myself to say 'Nobody puts Baby in a corner' in front of the cameras, it just sounded so corny. But later, seeing the finished film, I had to admit it worked. And of course, it became one of the most-quoted lines in the entire movie. I even quote a version of it myself these days, saying 'Nobody puts Patrick's pancreas in a corner' when people ask how I'm doing.'"

Come on. That's funny.

I am not one of those people who mourns celebrities like I knew them. But I am still sad that Patrick lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. If you must read one celebrity memoir or bio this year, consider this one.

*This now makes two books about pancreatic cancer that are better than Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture: the other is Miles Kington's How Shall I Tell the Dog? And Other Final Musings.