Picks and Pans Review: The Secret of Inner Strength: My Story

updated 04/04/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/04/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Chuck Norris with Joe Hyams

Action film star Chuck Norris's first venture into literature has an opening sentence worthy of an epic: "Nothing ever came easy for me, not even being born." What follows, however, is a strange hybrid of autobiography and self-help manual delivered in a pedestrian style. How did Carlos Ray Norris, a shy, un-athletic boy born to poor Cherokee and Irish parents in Oklahoma, become a world karate champion and movie hero? Refer back to his first sentence; it was all done with positive thinking and willpower. Each chapter ends with summations of the lessons he's wrung from experience, little homilies like "When faced with a problem, don't worry about it. Worry is wasted energy." The book also contains two codas: "My Principles of Inner Strength" and "Chuck Norris's Code of Ethics." Beyond the inspirational words-to-live-by, the book is a hollow experience. Norris does explain the plots of his movies, providing narrative logic that is rarely evident in the films. But Norris reveals little of himself or the celebrities (Priscilla Presley, the Osmonds, Bob Barker) he has tutored in martial arts. Other than still strong resentments towards his alcoholic father, Norris hardly admits to feelings at all. At times, between the lines, one senses the sad pressure he felt to succeed, as after a rare loss in a karate tournament: "I said to myself, I'll never lose that way again—never." His book remains an incomplete manual for the self-made man however. We get a sketch of the engine that drives Norris, with none of the details. (Little, Brown, $16.95)

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