Monday, May 29, 2017

Book Review: "Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies" by Michael Ausiello

It has been said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing multiple times but expecting a different result. Did I really believe I could read Michael Ausiello's lovely, bittersweet memoir Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies, a book of which its editor said, "You'll cackle; you'll sob," and not be a sobbing mess when it was done? I mean, I cry watching the car commercial where the little boy gets a dog, and then when he's grown up and goes to college, the dog is old. Color me insane, I guess.

Spoiler alert: while I wasn't out-and-out sobbing at the end of the book, I was pretty emotional.

Michael Ausiello is one of my favorite go-to sources for television-related gossip and information. I've been following him since he wrote for Entertainment Weekly and, and am an avid fan of the site he founded, In 2001, when he met Christopher "Kit" Cowan at a benefit, he was smitten instantaneously, both because of Kit's good looks and the easy banter they quickly fell into.

Their relationship took off, but like all relationships, dealt with some rough spots along the way. Some challenges were common—dealing with infidelity, financial independence, Kit's marijuana habit, Michael's emotional insecurities—and some were a little less so: Michael's, umm, obsession with all things Smurf, and Kit's prodigious collection of sex toys. But even through the rough patches, both realized how much happier they were together, and how much they truly were two halves of a whole, along with their long-suffering cat, Mister Scooch.

In 2014, in the middle of their 13th year together, Kit was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of neuroendocrine cancer. For Michael, Kit's illness not only brought him face-to-face with the threat of losing the love of his life, but it reminded him of losing both of his parents to cancer when he was younger. But Michael took on the role of Kit's caregiver as fully as he did every interview with a celebrity, every column he wrote, every guest appearance he got to make on a television series.

Although the two had eschewed marriage in the past (while supporting the right of everyone to marry the person they love), they got married just before Kit's first chemo appointment. This allowed Michael to be fully engaged in every aspect of Kit's treatment and care. And while Kit faced his bleak prognosis with the same good humor he approached every day, he never seemed to get the upper hand on his cancer, and after a tough battle, he passed away in February 2015.

While Spoiler Alert is a chronicle of Kit's fight with cancer, and how he and Michael faced down the disease and the setbacks together, this book is more than just a sad account of a life nearing its end. This is also a story of a relationship, a love affair, from start to finish, with the funny and sweet moments, the challenges and the anxieties, and all of the emotion and beauty of two people who truly gave each other their whole heart, their humor, and their love.

This certainly was a book that hit me hard emotionally, and made me want to hold my own husband and my own loved ones a little bit closer as soon as I finished reading it. (Plus I couldn't see while reading the last chapter I was crying so hard.) But it was also a book that made me laugh, made me recognize myself and my own relationship in certain anecdotes Michael shared, and made me thankful that he was willing to share his relationship with Kit with us, although I'm sorry this is why he did.

NetGalley and Atria Books provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!


  1. Nice review. Looking forward to it.

    1. Thanks, Kenneth! It's really a good balance of emotion and humor.