Michael Moore’s new autobiography follows the sometimes ordinary, sometimes extraordinary, life of one of America’s most controversial commentators. His movie Fahrenheit 9/11 is the highest grossing documentary of all time. Aptly titled Here Comes Trouble because of the perception of the author and movie maker during the first few years of the George W. Bush administration and his war in Iraq. He describes in great detail and with sufficient personal reflection what it felt like to criticize the administration on live television during his first Oscar win acceptance speech, and the turbulence of his life after he became public enemy number one.
The memoir-writing style of American writers (mostly public figures) has often amazed me in their ordinariness. No attempt at lyricism or any special verbal sophistication. Just facts, told sometimes with a flourish, and with humour. Not much with any real attempt at literary brilliance. This commentary of mine is ironic, of course, because the straight-forwardness of the narrative makes it a fun and light-hearted read. But it ends there. I’ll remember the facts in the book more than the beauty of how the facts were told. In short, it doesn’t challenge me even though the recollection surely delights. I’m sure this makes some sense.
Michael Moore is a controversial figure, and holding his book with me around campus has already got me a few stares. We no longer live in a George Bush America but it is still fascinating the kind of response his name elicits. A few minutes ago, a student saw it on my desk and asks what I thought could be a tricky question: “So you like Michael Moore, eh?” “I like his work,” I replied. It seems like the safest answer to give given the circumstance. As the book shows, he is however a man bold enough to take risks, and who because of those risks – and some other coincidences in life – has lived a truly remarkable life.