Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large by William Shatner and Chris Regan.
(Published October 2011).
I haven’t seen much of William Shatner’s work. I have never even seen Star Trek (I know, I’ll go sit in a corner and be ashamed after I’m done writing this review).
I know Shatner from Boston Legal (a show I absolutely adore and cherish), and from his many appearances on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (also a show I adore and cherish)… and maybe from one or two random clips I stumbled upon on YouTube throughout the years.
But I love Shatner’s sense of humour, his lovable arrogance, and his way of story telling, so those are the things that drew me to this book.
I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Shatner himself, which is something I can absolutely recommend. There’s just something about the way he tells stories and the way he delivers lines that make this book a joy to listen to.
Shatner Rules is a memoir (sort of) filled with random anecdotes stringed together by rules and facts (‘fun factners’). Shatner tells stories about Comedy Central’s Roast of William Shatner, selling his kidney stone, turning 80 (with grace, wit, and swagger), his feud with George Takei, mindfulness, using the Vulcan nerve pinch on a heckler, his love for horses, Denny/Alan and Kirk/Spock slash fiction, and so on, and so on.
The rules (and many other parts) in the book aren’t meant to be taken very seriously. Most of them are rules like ‘busy is measured in units of Shatner’, ‘don’t die, you’ll miss out on all the lifetime achievement awards’, and ‘always take Shatner’s word for it, even if you suspect he’s lying’.
Shatner is much like the character Denny Crane he portrayed on The Practice and Boston Legal. Denny Crane considers himself a legend and walks around saying his own name. He is completely full of himself, but manages to make it come across as funny and lovable.
The same goes for Shatner himself. His arrogance has almost become his trademark, a running gag even.
There was always a lot of shameless self-promotion whenever I saw him on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, but he even manages to do it in this book! He promotes YouTube clips he’s in, he plugs his show Raw Nerve on The Biography Channel, and he even urges the reader to purchase his memoir Star Trek Memories. And you know what? It’s hilarious. Shatner knows he’s full of himself (and that others know it too) and he uses it to be entertaining.
When talking about his feud with George Takei and how Takei accused him of having a big, shiny ego, Shatner just acknowledges it and claims his ego is so shiny because he tends to it very carefully and lovingly.
(Later on, Shatner talks about Facebook and Twitter and the alternatives he has for his tweet sign-off ‘MBB’ (meaning ‘My best, Bill’) and sassily refers to the George Takei feud another time. For one of those alternatives for his sign-off was ‘LTEBGT’, meaning ‘Love to everyone but George Takei’. That made me laugh.)
His sense of humour is great and some bits become even funnier when you hear Shatner actually say the words in the audiobook. The way he says “Have you ever heard Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and said to yourself ‘I wish William Shatner would perform this?’ Well, wish no more! I cover it on this album!” is brilliant. Just like the way he says that even when realising he wasn’t the one getting the lifetime achievement award at an award show, he still decided to stick around. And when sarcastically asking the reader: “Can you imagine that? Being forever linked with an icon character?”
But on the rare occasions that Shatner does get serious in this book, he manages to be moving and to impart actual important rules, or words of wisdom.
The part about the death of his wife Nerine was particularly powerful and touching.
He also talks about meditation and mindfulness, advising the reader (or, in my case, listener) to ‘work on filling all your years with as much joy as possible’ and explaining that the soulful place is everywhere; paradise and enlightenment are always within reach.
His last, serious advice in the book is ‘to get it your way’ just as he got it his way. He urges the reader to not be afraid of taking chances or of failing.
Very simple pieces of advice and words of wisdom, but somehow they hit home.
I already adored Shatner for his funny, lovable personality and his brilliant stories, but Shatner Rules made me adore him just a little bit more.
If you’re even remotely curious about William Shatner and his big, shiny ego, I would definitely recommend this book.
4.5 out of 5 stars.
This review can also be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2034934501