usagi ☆ミ's Reviews > Where There's Smoke...: Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man, a Memoir

Where There's Smoke... by William B. Davis
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's review
Dec 12, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011, arc-galley, ebook, net-galley, non-fiction, memoir, 2012, tv-and-movies, reviewed
Read from December 13, 2011 to February 07, 2012

The Cigarette Smoking Man was one of the most iconic villains of my childhood. I grew up watching "The X-Files" from the pilot onward (I was nine at the time), and though I dropped out from season 8 to right before the series finale in season 9, it still remains one of my go-to comfort shows whenever I get sick or feel down. When I lived in Japan and got sick I'd watched it dubbed in Japanese on TV there. CSM always fascinated me, because he seemed to have so many conflicting stories about him, about his life, as if he were his own mytharc and not just apart of the larger government scheme.

So when I learned the actor was releasing an autobiography about his time on the show and the rest of his life, I was really excited. And I wasn't let down. "Where There's Smoke" offers interesting insight into the evolution of Canada's radio, film, and theatre industries from the latter half of the last century onward (something I know next to nothing about), as well talks about today's television boom within Vancouver and his other endeavors within the industry. That, and we finally get to see what goes on inside of CSM's head as a character. Yay!

I really enjoyed it and I feel like I learned a lot. For example, I didn't know that acting schools in Canada had subsidies from the government. I'm pretty sure that's not the same in the States. It was almost like reading fiction when reading the parts of his childhood acting, getting involved with British theatre companies and the decline of radio. It was very absorbing, and Davis definitely has a rather compelling voice as a writer that's definitely his own. It's almost as if, in parts, when talking about his own experiences he wasn't using first person POV, but almost as if it were third close instead. And he used first person the entire time in the actual form on prose. It was a very surreal experience, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I didn't know how interconnected all of these different industries were, and I feel like I definitely got schooled (in a good way) there. I also mourned with him how things changed as the years passed in terms of media - video killing the radio star, and all of that. We're evolving so quickly with our technology, and that made me wonder (and not for the first time) if this is truly the best thing for our species.

The X-Files insider information was especially of interest to me, and I definitely devoured the rest of it up. Before I knew it, the book was over, and I genuinely felt grief over the fact that the show is done and over with and now, nearly ten years past its finale along with Davis. There seemed like there was so much more that was going on within the making of the show that he decided not to talk about, and though I don't know whether that's true or not, it sounds like things weren't all sunshine and aliens behind the scenes. And for that, I'm sorry. Not that I expected it to be, but I genuinely laughed and agreed when he called acting "waiting" instead. Because yeah, that's what actors do - they do a lot of waiting until they can actually perform their craft. At least, if they're doing episodic television.

I'd love it if Davis were to write more books, because I feel like he'd have a pretty awesome fictional voice if he were to try out fiction. He is an actor, after all. He knows how to slip on a skin written for him. I'd like him to write one of those skins instead. Overall, if you're a fan of the industry, or you just like CSM, definitely give "Where There's Smoke" a try. Definitely one of the better non-fiction books of 2011.

(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and
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12/16/2011 page 92

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