Sure, I'd love to hear your story....
I hesitated at first because I really don't need a comedian, even an excellent one like Crystal, to tell me what aging feels like. This is much, much beyond that. Truly laugh out loud funny and surprisingly poignant, the decades of Billy's life are full of colorful (and often famous) characters that will fascinate you if you're acquainted with them or not. Yes, there are the old guy jokes, and they're funny, but it's when he's playing straight man to what is happening to him and around him when this book really zings. This is a book that you should NOT read on paper (or screen), but listen to performed by a master joker. Great fun.
Like a lot of people, I was a bit surprised to learn this had beaten out some really famous and important works - - but after an hour, I know why. This story is like having the world's best coffee and donuts with your absolute best friend who is finally letting you in on all the secrets of her life. She's an amazing writer - - no kidding, just listen to her music. But just like that music, this is deeply personal, stunningly honest, painful and uplifting. Hearing this one, with Janis singing pieces of the story, allows you to be not a just a witness to her life, but a participant. Love this one.
I really enjoyed this book, because I am a sucker for John Lithgow. I find every role he does fascinating by virtue of the fact it's him. I am, therefore, not a good reviewer because I am very far from impartial. Having been warned: I loved this book. The amount of self-awareness that had to go into creating this honest and self-effacing look at one's own life required someone with the ability to dig into their own dirty laundry and hold up the piece of which you're most embarassed. That is no easy task. If you're a fan of Lithgow, of the live stage, or an adult looking back on the frailties of our parents and ourselves, I think you'll like it, too.
I have to admit that the Truman Capote story on Marlon Brando was a bit disappointing. But the rest, oh my! What a wonderful book of stories; it starts with Lillian Ross on Earnest Hemingway; then goes to Katherine White, one of the founding editors of the New Yorker; then goes on to profile boxers, "cool finders", a tightrope walker; Heloise (from Hints from Heloise); Edna Buchanan (Miami crime beat reporter); Isadora Duncan, and even a champion show dog. My two favorites were Mr. Hunter's Grave by Joseph Mitchell and A Pryor Love (about Richard Pryor) by Hilton Als. Mr. Hunter's Grave was not really about a person so much as about a small town on Staten Island; I know, I don't make it sound like much, but really, I hated to have it end. The story on Richard Pryor was insightful -- it showed the flaws in the man with such compassion and with enough understanding of Mr. Pryor's past to show how it all worked together first to make him into a celebrity, and then brought him down again.
The narration on all the stories is good, but it is the writing that really makes this book stand out. It is the sort of writing that transports you from where ever you are into the world being profiled. You come away wanting to know more about the people discussed, and feeling like you may have met some new friends. 10 hours is not enough for this book; I hope they will put out the unabridged edition. I will go back and listen to these stories again.