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Thomas Fitzsimmons - The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man
The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man offers a full-throttle look at New York city’s fascinating cast of characters: the wiseguys, rogues’ gallery celebrities and settings that range from the mean streets of the South Bronx to Manhattan’s plushest penthouses. And when Fitzsimmons - a born-and-bred Gothamite, NYPD officer, model, actor, WNBC television personality, and celebrity bodyguard - plunges into the frenetic, fabled New York singles scene, his life takes a turn that he never anticipated. Told with large dollops of humor, jaw-dropping details, and not a little poignance, The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man takes readers on an extraordinary journey that’s anything but ordinary.
This dishy memoir finds Fitzsimmons (author of Confessions of a Celebrity Bodyguard) digging into his days as a police officer in a brutal Bronx neighborhood, then his transition into modeling and acting, and finally—and most prominently—his life on the edge of New York City's rich and famous. The prologue plops the reader right in the middle of the story, as Fitzsimmons details a screaming 1991 fight between his sometime friend Donald Trump and Fitzsimmons’ own for-appearances-only ex-fiancé, Marla Maples, who would later go on to marry the future president. The fight’s subject: the possibility that Maples was interested in Bill O’Reilly, then an Inside Edition host.

That sets the scene for Fitzsimmons’s survey of New York’s glitterati in the 1980s and ‘90s, a time of excess alongside urban grit. After a harrowing career as a cop, Fitzsimmons hosts a television show, appears in commercials and bit parts, and does a number of modeling photoshoots. Along the way, he meets and befriends the famous, occasionally living close to tragedy. Fitzsimmons reports that his friendship was treasured by many because he knew how to keep his mouth shut. Now, Fitzsimmons goes into some detail, including the many ways in which he reports serving as a middleman to the elite.

The memoir is more about places and people Fitzsimmons has met as a sort of Zelig-like figure than a deep reflection on his life. There are shady mob figures, Hollywood friends like Larry Hagman, and tense stories about stalkers and life on the edge. Above all, Fitzsimmons is a keen observer and listener whose exploits doing private security balance the book’s tabloid elements. The heart of the story, though, is his seemingly futile attempt at finding lasting love, until he married Wendy, the great love of his life. That ends in tragedy, and the memoir represents a way of honoring her memory while dishing out yarn after yarn.

Takeaway: Page-turning memoir of a cop-turned-model’s adventures among New York’s elite.

Comparable Titles: Nelson Aspen’s Dancing Between the Raindrops, Peter Gatien’s The Club King.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A

New York City Review of Books

Having had the privilege of reading "Thomas Fitzsimmons - The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man," I am compelled to share the profound impact the author's narrative has had on me. His life's journey has been nothing short of "extraordinary," weaving together threads of personal triumphs, moments, and encounters with a spectrum of characters that have left an indelible mark on his life.
From the opening pages, the memoir draws readers into a world both familiar and extraordinary, where the ordinary becomes extraordinary through the lens of the author's experiences. His encounters with famous and infamous personalities are a highlight of the narrative, providing a fascinating glimpse into a life intertwined with figures who have left an unforgettable mark on history. Whether sharing anecdotes about the luminaries he has crossed paths with or the less celebrated individuals who have nonetheless shaped his journey, each story is a captivating window into the mosaic of his life.
The author's ability to navigate the complexities of personal relationships is commendable. The exploration of his love life is a very relatable aspect of the memoir. The highs and lows, the joys and heartaches—all laid bare with a vulnerability that resonates deeply. This authenticity adds a layer of richness to the storytelling, allowing readers to connect with the universal emotions that underscore the human experience. It's a testament to the author's courage as a storyteller to unveil the intricacies of his personal life in such an open and honest manner.
The chapters dedicated to the author's experiences and encounters as a police officer are a tour de force. His accounts provide a visceral and unfiltered perspective on a profession often romanticized or misunderstood by those outside its ranks. The challenges he faced and the moments he cherished have all been portrayed, offering readers an intimate understanding of the sacrifices and triumphs inherent in a career devoted to public service. The author's commitment to duty and the community is palpable, making the story not only compelling but also profoundly impactful.
The author's writing style is a true asset to the storytelling. The prose is eloquent, yet accessible, creating a seamless flow that carries readers effortlessly through the pages. The balance between introspection and action is masterfully achieved, ensuring that the narrative remains engaging and thought-provoking.
To conclude this review, I want to express my heartfelt appreciation for the wonderful narrative Thomas Fitzsimmons has crafted. "The Extraordinary Life Of An Ordinary Man" is not just a memoir; it is an immersive and enlightening journey through a life well-lived. I thank the author for sharing his story with the world. - NYC Review of Books