We gave it a D
”I’d like to thank everyone I’ve ever met,” writes Kelsey Grammer in the acknowledgments of So Far…. By the time you plow through this skimpy but tiresome volume, you’ll swear he has. It reads less like an autobiography than the world’s longest acceptance speech.
In fact, So Far…‘s greatest accomplishment is that it feels so much longer than it actually is. A small book with big type and lots of blank space between chapters, it spans only 238 pages. Yet aside from an anecdote in the introduction, Grammer doesn’t discuss his best-known work, on Cheers, until page 173. Up to that point, it’s a brutally slow slog through the actor’s troubled life.
The book’s prose, alternately pedantic and pedestrian, doesn’t help matters. Grammer sounds like a man who’s spent too much time on a therapist’s couch — and not Dr. Frasier Crane’s, either. He claims he’s not writing his life story to wallow in his own sordid past: ”I have a higher purpose in mind. Those stories are, for me, stones on the pathway, measures of my growth as an actor and as a man.” Too bad he leaves no cliché unturned along the way.
To say that Grammer’s life has been turbulent is an understatement. His father and sister were murdered, two of his half brothers drowned, and he has been busted for drunk driving and cocaine possession. But So Far… reduces each of these tragedies to a simplistic lesson. For example, Grammer deals with his father’s shooting in two pages, concluding ”For me, the real message of his death was that life wasn’t to be trusted.”
When he recounts his 1992 marriage to Leigh-Anne Csuhany, Grammer suddenly turns into a bad Mickey Spillane imitator: ”Leigh-Anne was a stripper, and by the way she played pool, you could tell she loved her work. She loved to tease a man, and feel his eyes upon her ass when she bent over.” In one of the book’s more bizarre passages, he claims Csuhany verbally and physically abused him, even providing a lengthy list of her insults.
If only the slim section of So Far… devoted to Grammer’s nine years on Cheers were this juicy. We learn that Shelley Long ”could be difficult” — stop the presses! — but nothing about Ted Danson or the rest of the cast. ”People always asked if Cheers was as much fun as it looked,” Grammer writes in typically unenlightening fashion. ”Of course it was, it was a blast.” Fans of Frasier won’t find much of interest here, either — just predictable words of praise for costars David Hyde Pierce (”an amazing actor”), John Mahoney (”a wonderful actor”), Peri Gilpin (”a gifted actress”), and Jane Leeves (”beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful”).
Such overly effusive happy talk permeates the conclusion of So Far… as Grammer settles down with his first ”nice girl,” Tammi Baliszewski: ”She is my friend, my confidante, my joy. And my fiancée. One day she will be my wife.” No duh. He even refuses to let nagging allegations that he had an affair with a minor get him down, claiming ”I know, as she knows, we did nothing wrong.”
”I have a theory about life,” Grammer pontificates near the end, launching into a discussion of the winds that blow us through life, including the most powerful, which he dubs ”the heartwind”: ”It occurs when everything we know, every gift we have, and everything around us dances in unison.” Like so much of So Far…, this seems like nothing more than a lot of hot air.