Review: Time On Fire: My Comedy of Terrors by Evan Handler (review)

Time on FireTime on Fire: My Comedy of Terrors
written by Evan Handler
published by Argo-Navis

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I was asked to review this book by a publicist. I readily agreed to review Mr. Handler’s book. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book:
I did enjoy this book. While memoirs are not usually my thing, I do pick them up when I “know” the author – at least, heard of them. I don’t “know” Mr. Handler except from his appearances in Sex and the City and a brief cameo in Friends. I know his fame reaches far beyond these two instances. But his celebrity strikes an interest to see what his life is/was like. I think a lot of us are like that, we want to know about the private, personal lives of the celebrities that we watch on television, movie screen, or stage to see if they are like us – if the celebrity experiences the same things that we non-celebrities do.

What Mr. Handler went through is harrowing. It’s amazing. Who would have guessed unless you were a huge fan that already knew. I had no idea and I admire his strength and courage. I admire his will and drive to survive. If I were in the hotel in Baltimore, I would have applauded him along with the rest of the staff and patrons. (Read the book to know what I’m talking about.)

Time on Fire is a nitty-gritty telling of what Mr. Handler went through during his two bouts with leukemia. This story includes not only the actual medical treatment but how he handled and felt about the physical, emotional, relational effects of his disease. It’s a no holds barred account of having leukemia and going through treatment, setbacks, and infection along with healing, remission, and rebirth (so-to-speak).

Some of the book is quite tedious. I don’t know that I needed to know that exact details of his diagnosis and various treatments. Sometimes it was so technical that I didn’t quite follow. These parts made me not want to read every free chance I had because I had to really concentrate and absorb the information that was being given to me. However, his accounts of his reactions, his emotions, those of his family and friends were raw and true. I have no doubt that this is a true story – unembellished and real. I felt like I was sitting with Mr. Handler and hearing him tell his story as if to a friend or counselor or anyone who happened to ask with genuine interest.


Would I recommend it: I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading memoirs and stories of other’s triumph through something very difficult to go through.

Will I read it again: I will not, but I will read his second book It’s Only Temporary.
About the book – from Goodreads:
Based on Evan Handler’s hit off-Broadway play (called by “The New York Times” “laceratingly funny and self-revealing”), “Time on Fire” is a remarkable memoir of illness and survival, love and hope–shot through with anger, humor, and piercing eloquence.

Evan Handler was twenty-four and already an accomplished actor when he was diagnosed with acute leukemia and told that his chances for survival were slim. Resigning his role in Neil Simon’s “Biloxi Blues, ” Handler checked into New York Memorial’s Cancer Center and began a bizarre, sometimes uproarious five-year journey in and out of hospitals–“a raucous rump through Hell”–only to face an equally arduous return to the life he left behind.

“Time on Fire” is the story of Handler’s passage into a twilight world: a place of lonely, haunting despair lit by moments of exultation and hilarity; a world where the truly horrible and the hysterically funny not only coexist but seem to become the same thing. Told with the trenchant humor of a survivor, it takes a wry, unflinching look at the absurdity of fighting for life in a place where death is what is most expected, and a health care system on the brink of madness. It is the story of refusing to succumb to the pressures of conformity that threatened his recovery and of the fierce struggle to find the road back to health–at all costs.

From the comic accounts of his trip to a Madison Avenue sperm bank (“Nothing but the best address for my progeny”) and his experimentation with psychic healing, to the portrayal of the unraveling effects of his illness on his family and girlfriend, Handler records with astonishing precision the full emotional range of his experience. The result is a bracing, achingly poignant account of his determination to steal time and reclaim life. Glowing with uncommon insights and uncompromising honesty, “Time on Fire” is a testament to the bravery and the endurance of the human spirit.
Evan Handler

About the author: Evan Handler is beloved by millions for portraying Harry Goldenblatt, divorce-lawyer-turned-husband to Kristin Davis’s Charlotte York, on HBO’s groundbreaking series, and films, “Sex and the City”, as well as Charlie Runkle on Showtime’s current “Californication” (scheduled to begin filming its seventh season in April 2013).

In addition to authoring two highly acclaimed books, Time on Fire: My Comedy of Terrors, and It’s Only Temporary: The Good News and the Bad News of Being Alive, Evan has played leading roles in ABC’s “It’s Like, You Know . . .,” and NBC’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” and made numerous memorable guest appearances on “Lost,” “The West Wing,” “Six Feet Under,” “Necessary Roughness,” and “Friends.” In 2000, Evan played Larry Fine in ABC’s TV movie “The Three Stooges.”

On the big screen, Evan played a leading role in Ron Howard’s “Ransom,” starring Mel Gibson, and featured and leading roles Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers,” “Taps,” “The Chosen,” and “Sweet Lorraine.”

Prior to his work in film and television, Evan earned acclaim in seven Broadway productions, all performed between his twenty-first and thirtieth birthdays, and all in spite of losing nearly five years of that span to his fight against a supposedly “incurable” leukemia. During this time Evan starred in Broadway productions of “Six Degrees of Separation,” “I Hate Hamlet,” “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” “Broadway Bound” and “Master Harold . . . and the boys.”

Evan’s first book, Time On Fire, recently reissued as an ebook for the first time (as well as paperback), details his unlikely recovery from the leukemia diagnosed in the mid-1980s. His second book, It’s Only Temporary: The Good News and the Bad News of Being Alive, has also been reissued for the first time in both paperback and ebook formats. The book describes the years since the illness, and Handler’s surprisingly circuitous journey toward gratitude, using tales of serial dating, absurd relationships, unexpected depressions, and, ultimately, lasting love and a miracle conception.

In addition to his work on the stage and screen, Handler has written for The New Yorker; Elle; O, the Oprah Magazine; USA Weekend; Mirabella, and is a regular contributor to Huffington Post.

Find Mr. Handler here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads


Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!