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The Time of My Life - Patrick Swayze

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Authors: Patrick Swayze,Lisa Niemi / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 01 April 2010 / Autobiography: yes / Genre: Arts & Entertainment / Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd / Title: The Time of My Life / ISBN 13: 9781847398451 / ISBN 10: 1847398451 / Alternative EAN: 9781847376930

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      09.05.2012 15:07
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      Well worth reading.

      I started reading autobiographies and memoirs recently because I felt I was focusing a little too much on myself and felt it would be a good exercise in learning how to respect other people more and understand the very personal journies we are all on. Patrick Swayze was one of those big Hollywood names that become a household name around here when I was a kid and although I never became one of his crazed fangirls I have always had an enormous respect for his talent and enjoy watching him on screen. I thought that discovering his story would be something of an inspiration and that it would also be an education in how to be strong in every aspect of life.

      This book was released very shortly after Swayze died after suffering from pancreatic cancer in 2009. The book begins with Swayze recalling accounts from his childhood and ends during the period in which he is still battling the cancer. Although Swayze's wife, Lisa Niemi, is credited as co-author the memoir is narrated from Swayze's perspective bar a few letters that Niemi wrote. However, the story of Swayze's life is basically the story of Patrick and Lisa since the pair met at an early age and were always connected somehow, even when they were not physically together.

      I really enjoyed discovering all about Swayze's background and in particular about just how gruelling it was for him when he was training as a ballet dancer. You get a real sense of Swayze's character and in particular it becomes very obvious, both from reading the accounts but also in the way he tells it, that this guy is one tough cookie both physically and spiritually. This meant for me that from the outset of this memoir I started to have huge amounts of respect for the man and I was completely involved in his story.

      There are some fascinating accounts of how Swayze's Hollywood career unfolded and what this meant for him and Lisa. It is never just a plain account of "this happened...that happened" but what this meant to him and where it took him next. I particularly liked the accounts of what it was like to work on some of the biggest movies of his career. I can't say it didn't make me a little jealous of the exciting Hollywood celebrity lifestyle.

      I did get the sense that there was a lot of life material that is glossed over and there are things that come across as not being believable. These are perhaps very intimate or delicate secrets and I think you have to read between the lines in some places to know why this was his (or Lisa's) choice to expose some information to the public.

      What's surprising to discover about Swayze is that whilst this guy was a powerhouse of physical beauty and a hugely talented dancer, singer and actor (and more) is that he had a lot of insecurities. He mentions this many times in the memoir - the fact that he never felt good enough both in his professional life but also in his personal life. Although he turned to booze to help him battle his depression you do get a sense that he is continuously fighting the demons rather than letting them win. This is hugely inspirational.

      Towards the end of the memoirs I started to become very sad whilst reading about how Swayze discovered he had this terminal cancer. Although cancer touches us all - I'm sure we all know someone fighting this terrible disease - it somehow seems especially cruel for it to attack and kill a man like Patrick Swayze, someone who is so physically perfect and whose strength, beauty and talent has made thousands of people around the world adore him. It just seems so cruel. I also felt very sad for Lisa towards the end of the memoir since we know how the story ended and after getting a true sense of what kind of person Lisa is during the memoir I felt like my best friend had just been bereaved.

      I found this book very emotional and inspiring and I became involved in the story of Patrick and Lisa way more than I ever imagined I would when I first picked up the book. It's one that I would start reading and then realise hours had passed and I couldn't put it down. I would definitely recommend reading this. You don't have to be a huge Swayze fan to find this book amazing and inspirational. I have come away from it with a massive sense of respect for Swayze though and I've even been inspired to check out some of the movies he mentions making that I haven't ever seen. Well worth reading.

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      25.01.2012 12:11
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      An inspiring read for fans and those who've never even heard of him alike

      ~Millions of Women Can't be Wrong~

      When Patrick Swayze's character Johnny Castle ran his fingers down the arm of Jennifer Grey's character 'Baby' in the 1980s film Dirty Dancing, women watching in cinemas around the world let out a collective groan of pleasure that was probably not matched until decades later when Daniel Craig stepped out of the sea in Casino Royale in 'those' swimming trunks. For most of us Johnny was the role that made Swayze a major sex symbol and paved the way for his other great love story, Ghost. What I and many others didn't realise was that Swayze was already an old hand in the industry with plenty of aggressive he-man adventure films already in the can. The same women - and many more - let out a groan of anguish in 2009 when Swayze's death from pancreatic cancer was announced. It was like a part of our past, a part of our shared cultural heritage had gone. As Swayze himself joked "Nobody puts Patrick Swayze's pancreas in a corner". For me it was not the first death to make me feel I was maybe getting to an age where people I'd loved and admired were starting to die. The first had been Joe Strummer of the Clash, the next the tragic death of Kirsty McColl - maybe we are judged by our dead idols.

      ~A life-long love story~

      Patrick Swayze and his wife Lisa Niemi wrote 'The Time of My Life' after Swayze knew he was living on borrowed time. Towards the end of 2007 he went for tests at the hospital after some digestive problems. The worst case he imagined was pancreatitis - the truth was altogether more horrifying. Thanks to Swayze and more recently Steve Jobs, there can be few people unaware that pancreatic cancer is a death sentence. The question is rarely whether it will kill - the only unknown is how long you get. I suspect that this book was written with a sense of urgency to record a life well and fully lived and that the urgency gave the book a brevity and focus that's rare amongst the many self-promoting navel-gazing celebrity autobiographies that line up to grab the Christmas book market. When you look at all that Swayze squeezed into his life, this could have been a book of 500 pages rather than the rather more modest 246 pages.

      Swayze was born the second child and eldest son of a Texas cowboy father and a mother who ran a dance studio so the love of both horses and dance were in his DNA. He was blessed with phenomenal talent; he played football (the American sort) to a standard likely to get him a scholarship, was training for the US junior Olympic gymnastics squad, was an outstanding dancer and a musician. Being the kid with the ballet shoes in his bag and his violin in the other hand made him the target of bullies until his dad taught him to fight, a talent which would stand him in great stead in later life and be demonstrated repeatedly in his films.

      ~Pick Yourself Up and Start All Over Again~

      One by one Swayze's dreams were destroyed. A bad tackle on the field stopped his football career; a misjudged dismount in practice wrecked his Olympic gymnastics dream and so he focussed on ballet, only to find his multiply fractured and damaged body couldn't match his ambitions. Acting was the one thing in which he never lost his interest and which was always big enough to offer new challenges. But arguable, despite its ups and downs, his obsessive tendency to 'live the film' and some compulsive drinking after his father's death, Swayze's greatest enduring success was his marriage to Lisa Niemi, the girl he fell for when she was just 15 and training at his mother's dance class. 'The Time of My Life' is as much the story of their relationship as it is of Swayze's career, though despite the double billing on the cover, this is Patrick's story and Lisa - once again fulfilling the supporting actor role to his lead - is not the voice that delivers the story.

      ~Who will want to read this~

      This is a book for the Swayze fan more than anything else. It's not going to satisfy the tragedy tourist who's looking for a cancer saga and an account of the actor feeling sorry for himself. I have read a lot of first hand accounts of illness and tragedy and I'm happy to say that 'The Time of My Life' will not satisfy anyone who wants the gory details of this awful disease. This book is about Swayze's LIFE and his impending death pops up almost like an afterthought in the final chapter and serves only to stimulate the need to record the highs and lows of his time on earth.

      Swayze's story is that of a man who squeezed life so hard that the pips were squeaking, who climbed every mountain and when his body said it could take no more, he went off in search of another mountain and then another, and yet another. The outward appearance of physical perfection which contributed to his stardom - and which led my much younger colleague to pick up the book and exclaim "Wow, what a hottie!" - concealed an impressive count of broken bones, torn muscles and the scars of multiple near death experiences. His mother and wife must have dreaded every phone call that revealed each more stupid accident. He was a true daredevil, a fighter and a perfectionist, who loved to do his own stunts and take risks, who didn't know the meaning of can't or understand the word 'Stop!'.

      ~Love and Lisa~

      This is a beautiful account of a very special relationship which stood the test of time in an industry where infidelity and vanity destroy so many marriages. Niemi has said in interviews that despite the world thinking Swayze had women falling at his feet, she never had any reason to suspect him of cheating on her in their 34 year marriave. The book is Swayze's parting gift to both Lisa and to his fans - a love letter to the former and a thank you to the latter. It's written in a simple and straight forward style that delivers what needs to be said without dressing up every little achievement as it if were something major. If anything Swayze is disarmingly modest and very matter-of-fact about his achievement, open about his battle to avoid being typecast as an actor who fights, an actor who dances, and to stay away from any of the pigeon holes his industry offered him. I learned a lot about this remarkable and beautiful man and the wonderful woman who shared his life. 'The Time of My Life' is a moving and very sweet record of a very special relationship and is a book which his fans will love and those who barely knew him will still find interesting. For those of us who sometimes need to believe in the possibility of happy ever after and 'til death us do part' this is a love story that proves that celebrities can occasionally really get it right.

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        19.12.2010 13:42
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        An absorbing read which takes us through the ups and downs of Patrick's life

        As a fan of biographies and also a particular fan of Patrick Swayze I was looking forward to reading this and I wasn't disappointed. Despite being a fan I knew very little about his life prior to Dirty Dancing but on reading the book it became clear very quickly what an interesting life he had with many twists and turns along the way.

        The story starts with Patrick's early life in Houston with his parents, brothers and sisters, and takes us through his early years as a dancer, as he moves to New York and then on to Los Angeles with his sights set on a career in acting. The book is also a tribute to Patrick's relationship with his wife Lisa and although it is never seen through rose-tinted spectacles it is clear the connection they had for many years sustained them both through all sorts of ups and downs.

        I found the book engaging and informative but also inspiring as Patrick explains the difficulties he faced time and again and the need to reinvent himself on several occasions when faced with problems. I also found that Patrick's positive attitude, continued drive to be better and determination to succeed meant that the book left me feeling motivated and inspired.

        It is an easy book to read and flows easily from one way page to the next. I would recommend that fans of Patrick read this book but would also suggest that any non-fans out there might find it an interesting read. In light of Patrick's sad death, his determination to overcome the obstacles he faced is particularly poignant but ultimately this book is a wonderful celebration of all he achieved in his very full, but sadly all too short, life.

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        12.03.2010 00:49
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        Very tearful and emotional read

        This is a super duper book! I love autobiography's and this has to be top of the list. It's honest, fun, sad and full of little secrets that has been kept away from the public for years.

        This is a book for all, I feel men would enjoy just as much as women and teenager's. Such a easy read. My book is hard back, pain in the butt to read in bed! And my book has 247 pages unlike what it says above in the title(256 pages).

        This book talks about his child hood and growing into a man with his arms wide open taking everything in his stride. He is so determind to be the best of what he can be. A zest for life. Nothing stops him and nothing get's in his way.

        Patrick Swayze born August 18th 1952 in Houston, Texas. Sadly died September 14th 2009 after 20 months of trying to fight stage lV pancreatic cancer. He was a American actor, dancer and singer-songwriter.

        We know him best for "Jonny Castle" in "Dirty dancing" and "Sam Wheat" in "Ghost".

        His wife Lisa Haapaniemi met Patrick when she was just 15 years old at his mother's dance school. Lisa shortened her surname to Niemi in 1977 when she thought it was too much of a mouthful as a stage name.

        Patrick moved to new york in 1972 at 20 years of age to pursue with his dance and worked at the famous, professional Harkness company (dance academy). Lisa later joined him in New York, 1974, and later that year they started dating.
        They then married June 12th, 1975, back in there home town.

        I would have to say this book is more about him as he talks about his and Lisa's feelings, I feel Lisa hasn't spoken in the book. The book includes Lisa a lot as she has been part of his life for 37 years and I imagine she contributed a hell of a lot to the book as she has with his films. The book doesn't talk about situations from her side.
        But let's be honest we want to know about scrummy, yummy Patrick!

        There's a lot of heart ache from horrific injurie's, money problems, death of his father, his sister's suicide, drinking, rehab, relationship, plane crashes too losing their baby.

        They talk about there homes, love for horses, becoming pilot's and of cause the battle with cancer. Sadly the end of the book he was still alive and believed he would fight his cancer, so I did sob abit.

        This book made me think and learn about myself and teach me to fight for things in life, be positve. That is what Partrick and Lisa did throughout their lives.

        He talks about all his films and his co-stars. Who he got on with, who he didn't like. How it felt to be famous. He was named by people magazine as "sexiest man alive" 1991. He was nominated a lot for his film's.

        His wife auditioned for the role of Penny in "dirty dancing" but as we know Cynthia Rhodes got the role. This film made Patrick Swayze. To everyone's knowledge this was just going to be a low budget film little did they know it was going to be huge! It took them just 44 days to shoot!

        I have watched "Point Break" that he played in and this is again a brill film can't understand why it never did so good? I have also watched "Road house" another good film (a little dated now).

        Patrick and his wife have starred together in "Red Dawn" and "One last dance". These I have not watched yet.

        This book is priced at £17.99 but cost me £10 in Tesco's. Shop well to bag a bargain!

        This is a "must" read! I promise you will enjoy it.

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        20.01.2010 21:17
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        A big hype and an anti-climax

        I have been a fan of Patrick Swayze since I was 15 - 20 years later and I can still watch Dirty Dancing at any time. I have idolised him since my teens so was very upset when he passed away. I was delighted to receive this book for Christmas and got to reading it immediately. I have to say the more I read the more disappointed I became. I read pages and pages of how great Patrick Swayze is at everything and the book was just basically about how he was the best and tried to be the best and always wanted to be better and better. It was never the less very interesting and reading about the behind the scenes antics of every movie was great but it was always about how he coped, how bad things were and how great he made everything and not enough about actual events. I als felt that there was not enough input from his wife who I expected to have co wrote the book. Overall a good read but in my eyes it took him down off the pedestal I had him on a bit and now I wish I hadn't read it.

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          13.11.2009 21:57
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          An honest autobiography by a wonderful man.

          Patrick Swayze is... was... an excellent actor and dancer. His most popular films, 'Dirty Dancing' and 'Ghost', were THE films of the time when I was growing up and I believe they are still up there in the popularity stakes.

          Having seem a number of Patrick Swayze's films and seeing him in a number of interviews (most notably, the one with Barbara Walters where he talked about his cancer), I felt he was an interesting and deep man. So when I found out he was releasing an autobiography, I pre-ordered the book (hardback) - 'The Time of My Life' written by Patrick and his wife Lisa Niemi.

          Sadly, just a week or so before the book arrived, it was announced that Patrick had lost his battle with cancer and died. So, I read the book in a different light to what I would have done had he still been alive.

          This book not only tells us of Patrick Swayze's career of more than 30 years, it also tells us about his personal life - growing up, getting married, and the ups & downs of it all.

          We learn of Patrick's upbringing and his love for his father and determination to be the best that he can at whatever he's doing. Patrick tells us how Lisa became the love of his life, of his problems with alcohol and how it nearly destroyed their relationship. Not only do we get "behind the scenes" on Patrick's personal life, but we also get behind the scenes of a number of films - what went on on the set and off it - as well as how hard Patrick worked to get jobs and how or why he chose to do something.

          This book also tells us how Patrick's determination to do his own stunts nearly ended not only his career but also his life, as well as one or two other near death experiences, including an incident while flying his plane.

          Of course, we're also told of the moment Patrick's life changed forever when he received the devastating news that he'd got pancreatic cancer. But don't be deceived... This is no sob story. Patrick was determined he was going to battle this cancer and he wasn't going to let it beat him. He wanted to live until they found a cure. Unfortunately, one hasn't been found and it did beat him, but Patrick fought until the very end.

          Patrick and his wife Lisa wrote this autobiography together and as you read the book you'll see just how much of a partnership they were. Despite the ups & downs, Patrick loved Lisa more than anything. She must be so devastated.

          This is an honest biography from a Hollywood actor who was loved by many. It's emotional, gritty and inspiring. Patrick wasn't afraid to say anything and admitted his downfalls. Don't get me wrong... This autobiography also contains fun & laughter too. I can only hope that I have half the fun, love and determination that Patrick Swayze had!

          As Patrick died before the hardback was released, I'm sure the paperback will be updated with the final chapter... that if Lisa can bare to write it.

          I whole-heartedly recommend 'The Time of My Life' by Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi.

          Patrick was one talented, loving, strong and determined man and he will be missed.

          (Note: I have used part of this review in my Goodreads review of the book. It also features on my website).

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