Has anybody read Becoming Superman by J. Michael Straczynski? Or even heard of Straczynski for that matter. I hadn’t until I came across a book on Screenwriting he wrote in a charity shop a few months ago. It was old and battered, published in the late 90s.
I started reading the screenwriting book but had to stop. There was something different about this book. Something that made it stand out tonally from other books I had read on screenwriting. So I googled him and lo and behold his autobiography (Becoming Superman) was released at the beginning of September last month. I immediately downloaded the audiobook.It is one of the best books I have read in years. And I want to recommend it to you. It is a masterclass in autobiographical writing and the best book about how a writer became a writer I’ve ever read. I was blown away by it.
If you haven’t heard of him you might have heard of some of the things he’s written. Here’s a list of some of the highlights.
The Real Ghostbusters
The Twilight Zone
Babylon 5 (he singlehandedly wrote 92 of the 110 episodes)
Murder She Wrote
Sense 8 (new to Netflix)
The Amazing Spider-Man
And many others
Three novels including Demon Night
World War Z
Godzilla vs King Kong (coming next year)
And so much more.
The point is, this guy knows his shit. But the reason I want everyone to read it is his personal story. The way he tells his own life story is a masterclass in suspense and intrigue and great prose all by itself. His life growing up was horrendous.
I won’t spoil things here because every revelation and dark turn is worth discovering for yourself. But I think it’s safe to say if he hadn’t become a writer he would have become a serial killer. His history is full of murdered pets, a family of criminals and psychopaths, nazis and a terrible family secret, incest, violence, and madness.
The book is hilarious in parts and incredibly dark in others.
I read this as an audiobook and as audiobooks go it is perfect. The narration is outstanding. At the beginning of the book there is a short and funny conversation between Straczynski and the narrator explaining why Straczynski isn’t allowed to narrate his own book. You know from the moment you press play that you are in for a treat.
I will be ordering a hardback so I can read it again just as soon as I get paid.
There is a worry that I’ve hyped this book up far too much and it couldn’t possibly live up to expectation. But it can, and then some.
I very rarely feel the urge to read a book twice but I’m eager to start again from page one already.