Shoddy flummery masquerading as biography. This ""life"" of the actor best known for playing Superman presupposes an absurdly simple-minded public. The prose is more suited to an overly enthusiastic third-grade reading primer. And let's not forget the cynicism that surely inspired this travesty. Reeve was a bright young man, with a small gift for acting when he won the role of Superman (based largely on his resemblance to the cartoon character). He had a chance at semi-stardom, but squandered it with a series of extremely poor role choices. Every year, he faded further into obscurity, until a horse-riding accident left him paralyzed. Hollywood loves a cripple, especially when there's an added fillip of mawkish irony, and so Reeve has returned to the limelight. Veteran quickie biographer Nickson (Emma: The Many Faces of Emma Thompson, not reviewed, etc.) shamelessly vultures onto Reeve's tragedy with smarmy avowals of admiration: ""Chris is not just a brave man, he's someone who refuses to accept the idea of defeat in this, or in anything regarding his life. He's showing us what people at their best can be . . . and he deserves all the support we can offer him."" The Newsweek cover story last year on Reeve and his situation was more revealing and detailed than Nickson's hash and rehash of other already-published magazine articles. Readers who can't get enough of Reeve are best advised to wait for his autobiography (see p. 650).