Jennifer Huget reviews "Climbing Higher" by Montel Williams
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
The Washington Post
Daytime talk-show host Montel Williams is one of a small number of celebrities known to have multiple sclerosis. "Climbing Higher" (New American Library), co-written with Lawrence Grobel, recounts in satisfying detail Montel's long dance with this most unpredictable disease.
Before his TV career, Williams was a Marine, a U.S. Naval Academy grad, a boxer and a cryptologist translating Chinese. All along, he suffered unsettling symptoms and medical episodes some of which seem MS-related while others -- including a bizarre misdiagnosis of breast cancer -- seem just plain weird.
Without self-pity (well, not much) he describes the pain and uncertainty MS has dealt him and his family. He endorses exercise as a way to manage the disease -- and also makes a passionate case for medicinal use of marijuana. He offers a mix of contempt and respect for the medical community while pressing for more research.
Get this man an editor! The book bears the telltale marks of the Dictaphone: there's lots of rambling and repetition. There's also a bit more detail about his sex life than is really necessary . . . but for folks with MS, that can be a big part of the story.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Anybody talking so frankly about MS is doing a service by shedding light
on a mysterious and scary disease. While Williams is not cuddly enough
(think Michael J. Fox and Parkinson's disease) to serve as the standard
bearer for MS, the hour or so it takes to read this quickie is well spent.
Copyright © 2004, The Washington Post Company