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Seven Dirty Words: The Life and Crimes of George Carlin | [James Sullivan]

Seven Dirty Words: The Life and Crimes of George Carlin

In Seven Dirty Words, journalist and cultural critic James Sullivan tells the story of Alternative America from the 1950s to the present, from the singular vantage point of George Carlin, the Catholic boy for whom nothing was sacred.
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Publisher's Summary

In Seven Dirty Words, journalist and cultural critic James Sullivan tells the story of Alternative America from the 1950s to the present, from the singular vantage point of George Carlin, the Catholic boy for whom nothing was sacred.

A critical biography, Seven Dirty Words is an insightful (and, of course, hilarious) examination of Carlin's body of work as it pertained to the cultural times and the man who created it, from his early days as a more-or-less conventional comedian to his stunning transformation into the subversive comedic voice of the emerging counterculture. Sullivan also chronicles Carlin's struggles with censorship and drugs, as well as the full-blown renaissance he experienced in the 1990s, both personally and professionally, when he became an elder statesman to a younger generation of comics who revered him.

Seven Dirty Words is nothing less than the definitive biography of an American master who changed the world and also a work of cultural commentary that frames George Carlin's extraordinary legacy.

©2010 Ian Ayres and Barry Nalebuff (P)2010 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"An excellent account of the life and work of an important and greatly missed artist." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (60 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Dubi New York, NY, United States 01-23-14
    Dubi New York, NY, United States 01-23-14 Member Since 2011

    People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Couldn't Get Halfway Through"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Obviously not, since I decided not to continue before getting even halfway through. There is nothing wrong with the book, it was just not as interesting as I expected. I love George Carlin and have quoted his bits my whole life, and I was interested in understanding how he developed his unique brand of comic observation of modern life. After five hours of listening, I discovered nothing remarkable there, and I grew tired of listening to what amounted to a detailed long-form version of Carlin's CV.


    What could James Sullivan have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    He could have written in more of Carlin's actual comic bits, analyzing where in his history they came from. There are some short examples (how he got his weatherman schtick from Bob and Ray), but not enough, and not all that interesting (his weatherman schtick for example, was lifted straight out of Bob and Ray). Again, nothing wrong with any of this, just not that interesting for me, and I'm a huge Carlin fan.


    What does Alan Sklar bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He sounds like he can barely contain himself from laughing out loud as he reads Carlin's lines. Unfortunately, he sounds that way even when he's reading straight exposition as well -- a bit disconcerting.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Definitely, if it was a 60- or 90-minute documentary with a healthy dose of clips of Carlin performing (especially if they were able to unearth some of his early TV work). But as a 10-hour audiobook with someone else reciting his lines (and not enough of them), it just didn't grab me.


    Any additional comments?

    I've read similar books about other pop culture figures that I admire -- Woody Allen, J.D. Salinger, Harpo Marx, the Beatles and other rock figures. I tried this book out because I had enjoyed all of those and anticipated a similar experience learning about Carlin's background and career. But this book feels like Carlin's sports reports -- "Here are some scores: 4-1, 3-2, 5-4, and a partial score, Baltimore 3." In other words, incomplete. Which is how I left it. If the second half is better, let me know and I'll try finishing it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles troy, NY, United States 12-23-13
    Charles troy, NY, United States 12-23-13 Member Since 2012

    Tell us about yourself!

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "narator sucks nothing new"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    if it was interesting and they audio didn't skip and was all in the same volume


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    sunny barger


    What didn’t you like about Alan Sklar’s performance?

    not produced


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    disappointment


    Any additional comments?

    proof listeners should be implemented

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan Minnetonka, MN, United States 04-11-13
    Alan Minnetonka, MN, United States 04-11-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very little news about Carlin here"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    If you're interested in a showbiz resume, this book gives the bare facts about Carlin's professional life


    Has Seven Dirty Words turned you off from other books in this genre?

    If a biographer does not have any special access either to the subject of the bio or to people who have inside information, then it's better to study the subject's own works.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    I'm a huge fan of Carlin's work, so it was a great disappointment to find that there was so little new information about the man here.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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