Thought-provoking, touching, funny…brilliant book wonderfully read by the author. Stephen Tobolowsky's stories are relevant even to those of us infamous people.
Doctor of misanthropy
I've always really loved Tobolowsky as one of the nation's preeminent "It's that guy!" actors. Now I love him as a great storyteller, with a really interesting life.
I also never had a fan that the group "Radio Head" ultimately owes Tobo for their name. But that's another bit of trivia.
This book was just average for me. I expected it to be funnier I think. I had not heard of this author before and maybe those who know of his acting work will feel differently. There were a few inspirational tidbits; I enjoyed some stories and thought others were tedious. The narration was good as the author read it himself; that isn't always a good thing, but in this case, it worked. The story that most stood out for me was number 15. I found the story interesting and the lesson at the end was a good one.
I'm not exactly sure what I could say to add to the reviews that have already been written. I should start out by saying that this is not usually the type of book I would buy, but did so on a recommendation of a friend (usually disastrous). Since listening to this book, I have listened to every podcast of "The Tobolowsky Files" and can say that this man has found his true calling as a storyteller, teacher, and entertainer. I am familiar with his work as an actor, as most people are even if they don't know it (one of the recurring themes of the stories). I am a fan from "Californication" which, to me, is some of his funniest, finest work. His ability to open up his life to the reader/listener, both the painful and the triumphant, is astounding. I also highly recommend the movie form of his storytelling "Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party." You get a strange sense that he has lived this life, and been put through these experiences by some higher order for the sole purpose of telling his story and entertaining the world.
These stories are at times hilarious and, at other times, heartbreaking. There are instances where these aren't so easily separated and I found myself laughing through tears. He tells stories of himself as a boy, a boyfriend, an actor, a student, a teacher, an amateur exterminator, a husband, a friend, a drug user, a dog owner, a musician, and a hostage...sometimes all at once. These stories are always fascinating and have a unique sensibility. Even when about something mundane, they are never boring. I'm not sure that I would be willing to open myself up to the world and tell stories which seem so personal and, often times, embarrassing. I am glad the author was willing to do so. Never has encephalitis been so funny.
The book is not a linear autobiography. Instead, it is a collection of stories that often jump in time period, but are ultimately linked. Usually, each story has a theme or lesson he has learned or is retelling through life experience. If this is your first listen to Mr. Tobolowsky, then go one step further and check out the podcast. The stories in this book make up about the first 25 or so podcasts, but the podcasts often include slightly more information, as well as host/author banter. The book, in other words, is a more cleanly edited version of the podcasts with more fluid transitions between stories to try to make them more logically ordered for the reader.
This book could only succeed with the author as a narrator. This narration is more polished then the podcast delivery, which often includes Mr. Tobolowsky laughing out loud or choking up. I appreciate and enjoy the emotion in the podcasts, and, while not completely absent in the book narration, is slightly more controlled. That may or may not be a good thing to some, especially those familiar with the podcast. His voice is full of expression, and you can often tell when he is smiling, frowning, or on the verge of tears, which gives the feeling that he is actually retelling the story and not reading the story.
All in all, a beautiful, rare, and extremely special book that has me reflecting on my family, friends, and life like no other book has. I am stunned by how good this book is and how well it is read. I could not recommend it more.
Real; Life; Funny
Flea apartment at SMU.
Tobo's performane was clear, softly spoken and very humorous.
Tobo is a wonderful storyteller. I have listened to all of his pod casts, from one of which this book was written. Tobo is "every man" in the land of Hollywood, movie making, and stars, yet is a wonderfully accomplished actor in his own right. We grew up in the same neighborhood of Oak Cliff in southwest Dallas, so I recognized many of the same places, and remember some of the same great, innocent times.
No, one time through is enough
When I heard that Stephen played Stu, Marcie's husband on Californication it increased my level of enjoyment. It struck me as one of those "close to home" characters.
There are several moving moments in the book
Stephen comes across as a very clever and talented guy and an excellent story teller.
An Artists life.
The stories of his life are woven in such a way in and out of time. The life lessons and universal themes were enlightening.
He is the storyteller of his own life as an actor. As good an actor as he is he is a greater storyteller.
Book Lover in Ottawa
Everyone knows Stephen Tobolowsky, even if they are not sure who he is. Try IMDB and you'll figure out who he is. This was not only a great set of stories about Stephen's life, but in so many ways a lesson on how everyone should approach their lives.
This book had me really laughing in places. Stephen tells great stories and I could relate to each and every one of of his stories.
This is a book that benefits reading by the author and I can't wait for the next instalment. Highly recommended.
Riveting Insightful Hilarious
This book was very enjoyable, from the inside stories of his acting experiences, to the mundane everyday occurences. He is a terrific writer, and I hope he has some more stories left for another book (or more!).
No. I listened over several weeks.
I can't imagine this book as anything other than an audio book read by the author-- not surprising considering it was based on Tobo's podcasts "The Tobolowsky Files." The stories sound like they're being told casually by a friend, although they are clearly extremely well-crafted. Funny, touching, and more-often-than-not quite poignant. I can't decide if Tobo has led a captivatingly amazing life-- or if he's just a captivatingly amazing storyteller. Most likely a little of both. There's a "This American Life" feel to it— where both the strange and the mundane can lead to something bigger or deeper. If you like that show, you'll like this book. And if you don't like that show, then you're too cynical and/or hip for this book. And I feel sorry for you.