If you're a fan of any aspect of Steve Martin's career, I think you'll enjoy this "peek" behind the scenes.
As a creative person, professionally following a creative career, though in a different field, I really enjoyed listening to the evolution of his stand up career, material, and his thoughts, memory, and honest commentary about the highs and lows. In hindsight, he identifies turning points in his life and career that were insightful and often poignant.
With all of the above, it would have been well worth it, but the book is also infused with the sophisticated Martin humor: loved the lines about "curvy virtues" and "I did not kill him."
I'll listen to this one again I am sure in a year or so. (That was it's only negative, I wish it were a longer audiobook.) Great going Steve!
Not trying to be a jerk or snarky here, but I feel like I was suckered by reviews and want my credit back . . .
Yes, I have pretty high standards, even for genre books, but when reading books like this I WANT to like them---I grew up in the 70's and 80's playing D&D . . . I am squarely within the demographic . . . I'm not asking for Pat Conroy or John Steinbeck . . . but man, this is bad writing, on the level of internet fan-fiction.
I could almost hear the characters say: "Thistle grinned, and thought to himself, "Now is the time for exposition to explain away the obvious hole in the plot . . ."
AVOID. This book caused me to formulate a new rule: "Avoid writers who think they are clever." I kept hoping it would redeem itself with a clever concept or plot twist, but no. I can honestly say this is the worst book I have ever finished.
I think it's been said before, but this is not writing, it's typing.
It's a beautiful story, about a man worthy of emulation.
I was irritated in the beginning by the level of detail in the (pre-) biography, but quickly forgave. As someone in a creative profession, as someone who grew up with Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, and as a dad raising a child, this audiobook resonated with me and literally had me in tears (happy and sad) at several moments. A very emotional read all things considered.
The world is a poorer place without the likes of Jim Henson. Well-written and truly affective.
R.I.P. Mr. Henson, you did well by the world.
I don't know what I expected from this book, but it wasn't what it is! Interesting tale, "alternative future" quasi-sci-fi . . . while I wouldn't say it's a book I'd recommend to all my friends, it was definitely on the better side of what passes for escapist fiction. A very worthy use of a credit, well-written, (much above average in this regard for the genre) and an EXCELLENT performance by Claire Danes.
I never understood Reed Richard's hair . . . a few years ago I woke up and realized I had it.
If you get that joke . . . or if you are/were a Marvel comic book junkie, born between about 1958-78 (I was born in '68) I think you'd enjoy this book in some way, with the particular type of joy dependent on your personality.
For me, it was a bit like reading about a childhood hero ("Say it ain't so, Marvel") who you later found out was an alcoholic, misogynistic, criminal bastard in their day-to-day life.
I usually can't stomach gossip, or seedy insinuation---I could never read "The Comics Journal" back in the day----but somehow this book manages to cover the history of Marvel and such topics in all their tawdry glory without making you feel like you hate humanity in general.
A disclaimer: I probably represent about the most interested possible audience for this book. As a young artist I came very close to working for the major companies (the Shooter/DeFalco regimes) before I became a mainstream commercial illustrator (Briefly, I did later work for Eclipse and Dark Horse) and so almost every name mentioned brought forth from memory a face and a conversation at a convention, but I think even if you were just interested in the 1980's comics as a reader this would still be a fascinating peek behind the scenes.
Beyond all of the above, this book is also an almost accidental testimony to the oblivious evils of corporate greed and what happens when it collides with a creator's idealistic artistic passion. (Creators lose the battle, but have a lot more fun and fewer regrets on their deathbed.)
Excelsior . . .
While dated in some respects, if seen as the "period piece" that it essentially is, it holds up well. Much more enjoyable than the "mainstream" sci-fi that has been recommended to me.
As I was explaining to a colleague: the book leads you into thoughts of how you would cope with such calamities, which makes for interesting thoughts that last well beyond the reading of the book.
This book was not as transformative a listen as Botany of Desire, but I really enjoyed it and found myself talking about it a lot with friends. (always a good sign) It made me want to get into my kitchen on a weekend and experiment with long-ago clipped recipes. Very enjoyable.
Not a 5 star, but a solid, thoughtful 4 star. Away from the book, I found myself thinking about how it would be to live as a human so exposed to the brutalities of nature. This to me is a big factor in how I measure the value of a book or a story----does it make me think a little bit differently, does it transport me to a different world in my imagination?
This book did. I think it would be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys speculative fiction. (Sci-fi, etc.) Compared to most in those genres, this is superior writing.
I'm still looking for the fantasy writers who can sweep me off my feet . . . I think if you're already a fan of the genre, you would enjoy this---the descriptions of magician-craft were well-done and interesting---but I'm beginning to wonder if fantasy just isn't my genre . . . because at the end of the book I'm just left with a half-hearted feeling. (one exception was the first book in Game of Thrones, but I'll be damned if I'm going to invest that much time in a sequel(s) to a book that ends with a "tune in next week."
So for this book . . . well-written, fair use of a credit, but I wouldn't recommend to someone not already into the genre.
You wouldn't believe it if it were fiction . . . just when you think "ok, it can't get worse than that . . ." wait ten pages . . . and I thought that probably a dozen times.
I wasn't terribly interested in the topic but picked it up due to the exceptional reviews. I'm glad I did. I very worthwhile credit even for someone with only casual interest. Superb non-fiction writing . . . I'm kind of surprised it didn't win a Pulitzer---it's of that caliber.
As I believe some other reviewers have mentioned, if you read this sort of book often, you won't find much new material here.
Maybe I'm too close to the industry, but I was struck by two things:
1) I felt like I was reading a book proposal.
2) Authors, DON'T read your own text unless you are acknowledged as an excellent reader of your work. (David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, etc.)
Summation: An aging frat boy's guide to science. At times this book makes People magazine look literary . . . Dude . . .
A waste of time and credits unfortunately.
On a positive note, if you're interested in this sort of book, Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahnemen was BEYOND brilliant. One of the best books I've read in years.
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