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Billy Crystal looks back on his life

| Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Billy Crystal looks back on his life and career in “Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?” He writes in such a relaxed style that the reading experience feels more like he's talking about his life and thoughts over a friendly cup of coffee.

The book includes essays about his age or sex, and these sections are clearly designed to be funny. The 65-year-old comedian delivers numerous chuckles and flat-out belly laughs.

Crystal reflects on growing up, meeting his wife and getting his start in comedy. He provides behind-the-scenes material for some of his biggest career achievements, including the film “When Harry Met Sally ...” and the TV series “Soap.” The personal anecdotes resonate, and reading about the ups and downs of his life is inspiring. Just when he gets close to being maudlin, another humorous essay pops up to lighten the mood.

The memoir set off a million-dollar bidding war among publishers last spring that was finally won by Henry Holt and Co.

One of the themes running throughout his stories is his age, and it seems, at times, that he feels like everything is coming to an end soon. But here is a man who pursued his dreams, achieved them and exceeded beyond even his lofty expectations.

He's set to star in a film comedy directed by Frank Oz and this fall will return to Broadway with his one-man show about his childhood and his father, “700 Sundays.”

Turning 65 was all the inspiration he needed to write the memoir.

“All of my really dear friends who are the same age are pretty much saying the same thing, which is basically, ‘Wow. Jeez. This is really happening,'” he says. “You go through stages — first day of school, ‘It's a bar mitzvah,' ‘a wedding.' ‘You know who died?' ”

Crystal is both a typical baby boomer, baseball fan and political liberal who brags about his grandchildren and can't believe that he's a grandfather and a VIP who seems to have lived out every childhood fantasy — a star of movies, television and the stage, befriended by Muhammad Ali and Mickey Mantle, adored by Sophia Loren. During one Oscar show, Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty stopped by his dressing room to compliment him. Beatty and Bill Clinton turned up backstage after a performance of “700 Sundays.”

Crystal has the charisma, humor and down-home charm that fans have loved over the years. And the love for his family clearly shines through the words, as well.

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