Monday, January 5, 2015

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris

Reviewed by Kristin

How many chances do you get to make your way through someone’s life (other than your own) by making a series of choices?  If you choose to audition for a television show which will showcase you as a teen star, turn to page 14.  If you would rather try your hand at magic, turn to page 68.  If you had a happy childhood, turn to page 26.  Otherwise, turn to page 287 where you will find yourself unemployed, sitting on the couch eating Cheetos and getting orange gunk all over the remote.

Okay, okay, none of these are actual bits from Neil Patrick Harris’ autobiography.  But that is the flavor of the wry look the author takes at his own life.  From being a teen heartthrob as Doogie Howser, M.D., to having twins by surrogate with husband David Burtka, Harris talks about his life with the knowledge that he has been fortunate in his home life and career.

Well known for his recent nine year stint on the television comedy “How I Met Your Mother” (HIMYM,) Harris has played a variety of roles on the small screen, big screen, and in the theater. From womanizing Barney Stinson in HIMYM to an East German transgender rock artist in the stage production Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Harris is not afraid to push limits and take risks.

I began the book by actually following instructions and turning to the prescribed pages in order to follow my chosen thread through Harris’ life.  As I was laughing my way through the pages, I was afraid I would miss things, so ended up jumping around and going back to choose various scenarios that ended in all sorts of ways.  On one hand the characters may end up on a Disney theme park ride, or on the other hand they may end up dying in the desert in a pool of quicksand.  Then there is the page that no other section actually leads to—did I find it by cheating or by accident?  I’ll never tell.

A selection of color pictures in the middle of the book definitely adds to the charm.  The Burtka-Harris twins Harper and Gideon are blond and smiling and a treat to see.  Various celebrities/writers/directors have written bits and pieces to give another view of Harris.  Throw in Harris’ propensity for magic tricks and there is something for everyone.  Covering a wide range of experiences, I found the writing to be honest and raw, but ultimately touching.

When this book was released, people were tweeting pictures of themselves apparently levitating while reading it.  After reading the book, I still have no idea why.  (Maybe I missed that page.)  If this has piqued your interest and you are up for a witty autobiography of a popular actor, check out Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Biography today.

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