Audie Award, Non-Fiction, 2015
Richard Pryor was arguably the single most influential performer of the second half of the twentieth century, and certainly he was the most successful black actor/comedian ever. Controversial and somewhat enigmatic in his lifetime, Pryor's performances opened up a new world of possibilities, merging fantasy with angry reality in a way that wasn't just new - it was heretofore unthinkable.
His childhood in Peoria, Illinois, was spent just trying to survive. Yet the culture into which Richard Pryor was born - his mother was a prostitute; his grandmother ran the whorehouse - helped him evolve into one of the most innovative and outspoken performers ever, a man who attracted admiration and anger in equal parts. Both a brilliant comedian and a very astute judge of what he could get away with, Pryor was always pushing the envelope, combining anger and pathos, outrage and humor, into an art form, laying the groundwork for the generations of comedians who followed, including such outstanding performers as Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, and Louis C.K.
Now, in this groundbreaking and revelatory work, David and Joe Henry bring him to life both as a man and as an artist, providing an in-depth appreciation of his talent and his lasting influence, as well as an insightful examination of the world he lived in and the influences that shaped both his persona and his art.
©2013 David Henry and Joe Henry (P)2013 Tantor
"A beautifully written account of the troubled life of a manic genius." (Booklist)
The narrator is excellent and brings the story to life--one of the best narrated books I've listened to. A great biography. that provides context for many of the iconic performances that Pryor is known for. The reader walks away with a greater appreciation of his genius and understanding of his demons.
No, I can only hear the "N" word so many times before I start feeling soiled. I got the picture in the first reading.
The author really did his home work on this but so much was take from his discs and television specials that run from time to time but the book helps bring this tragic story into perspective.
I like relevant minutia in my Bios, and this had plenty.
Not extreme, but the head shaking tragedies leading up to his death screems out "where are the people who care about this man and why don't they help him". The answers are; there where none and he wouldn't allow it if there where.
Good effort by the reader to do a Richard Pryor impersonation..,,,but........FAIL.
I have seen a few documentaries oh Richard Pryor and read other books, but this one gets under the skin of it a little more than most. As someone who grew up with Pryor as an idol and having seen a majority of the entertainment discussed, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
There were some things left out- like some of the stuff that Mel brooks said about Pryor writing all of Mongo's lines in Blazing Saddles or how he once was late and called in from Illinois.
Still... A very good book
Original material; not material from other books.
Probably not; it is NOT original material.
This book was a huge disappointment. The author jumps from past to present and vice versa.
Not a biography at all...just a collection of practically incoherent bunch of paragraphs put together.
Interesting story with some insight into Pryor's life and times but thin in many places. Lots of repetition of Pryor's classic routines. I agree that he was a special talent but the genius term was thrown around ad nauseam throughout the book.
A new author and a new reader. This is not a story of Richard's life or his comedy. PLEASE! Comparisons to Shakespeare and Dante? Really? This book shows of one or both authors very expensive education in literature. It does not do Richard justice. And what,please tell, do these authors have against Chevy Chase? There are digressions on digressions. Complete lack of focus. They could have used much more editing. There is nothing original here. It is like reading one of my students' term papers. A compiled list of other persons' ideas and writing.
No, but I will make sure to always avoid these authors.
The performer is the strangest I have ever heard. Did the reader really have to perform impressions, or try to perform impressions, of every star from Cosby to Lilly Tomlin, to Red Foxx, to really? Poor impressions for the most part and quite distracting.
Yes! I will use the many citations in this book to find a good book about Richard. This was not one of those good books.
This makes me feel that these authors used Richard for their own agendas and to make a profit. Wasn't there enough of that when he was still alive? Shame on them!
This story covers an era of great change; change in comedy, relations between races, and U.S. political upheaval. In the midst of it all is the story of one brilliant and tortured soul.
No favorite characters here. Pryor's drug abuse and erratic personality made everyone miserable at some point.
At first I found it annoying to hear the narrator imitate Richard Pryor, but he did a good job of it and eventually I became accustomed to it and felt that there was no other way to convey Pryor's voice than through "Pryor's voice". However, I felt the imitation of the other character's voices were unnecessary and distracting.
I could have listened to it in one sitting, but didn't.
I think this is an important book for many reasons, not the least of which is Richard Pryor's ground breaking approach to 'dramady'. He was more than a comedian and a chronicler of a very important era. It wasn't easy to listen to re-live the period of time that Pryor was living in but he and the authors captured his style and his troubled life and put it in the context of the times in which he lived.
Ok, not great. Seemed a little too full of itself. Not every joke or story Richard Prior told changed the world. Little too long, never really funny for more than a laugh or two.
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