If you ran into Stephen Tobolowsky on the street, you would not be mistaken: Yes, you’ve seen him before. A childhood dentist? A former geometry teacher? Your local florist? Tobolowsky is a character actor, one of the most prolific screen and stage presences of our time, having appeared in productions that range from Deadwood to Glee, from Mississippi Burning to Groundhog Day.
But Stephen Tobolowsky, it turns out, is not just an actor; he is also a dazzlingly talented storyteller and writer. He has earned a devoted base of fans for his original stories, told in front of live audiences as well as in a popular podcast. Now, for the first time, he has assembled those stories here. The result is creative mitzvah, a work of art, and a narrative feat that combines biography and essay, ranging in tone from the hilarious to the introspective.
To read these pages is to enter an astonishing world that, like all art, is universal yet individual, familiar yet disquieting. A dangerous world, indeed.
©2012 Stephen Tobolowsky (P)2012 Simon & Schuster
"Stephen Tobolowsky has found his true calling as a storyteller. He is candid, insightful, often profound, and very, very funny, especially when he recounts his adventures in show business. By blending sharp memories of his childhood with astute, adult observations of the world around him, he weaves a spell not unlike Jean Shepherd or Garrison Keillor… but he has a voice all his own, and I love it." (Leonard Maltin, film critic and author)
"I LOVE THIS!" (Sarah Silverman)
"Great storytelling, beautiful stuff." (Rian Johnson, director of The Brothers Bloom and Brick)
Charming, human, inspirational.
It happens a lot with the way Tobo crafts a tale. There is an A and B story line and they always intertwine at the end with a great "youseetimmy" Which of course is the morale to a given story. The term is derived from the end of Lassie episodes. "you see, Timmy...."
His own experience. These stories are his own. He knows where to slow down, where to punch a line, where to pause. I can't imagine them told in any other voice.
I honestly feel like I am a better human being for hearing this book, not to mention his podcast. I giggle, I get misty, even with repeated listens. I have bought this book and the audiobook for family and friends, I suggest you do the same.
I've had one cyber run in with the author. My daughter who was 11 at the time, was auditioning for a play and subsequently got the lead. She was freaking out about a fast approaching opening night and worried about learning all her lines. I had been a fan of the Tobolowsky Files podcast and I shot a tweet to him.
Not only did he respond to my tweet, but he sent my daughter a long email spelling out different techniques for learning a script and preparing a part. Anybody in the industry that is as busy as he who takes that kind of personal time out for a fan who is thousands of miles away is a stand up guy in my book.
This book is far more entertaining and meaningful than most books on tape. Tobolowsky is not only an intelligent and perceptive observer of the human condition, but is consistently funny as he relates stories about his childhood, romantic relationships, family, and movie and television career. As a comic, Tobolowsky reminds me of the Canadian comic, Stuart MacLean (of "Dave Cooks the Turkey" fame). Great stuff!
I value intelligent stories with characters I can relate to. I can appreciate good prose, but a captivating plot is way more important.
I discovered Stephen Tobolowsky's writing and storytelling through his podcast. I'd recognized him as one of my favorite character actors, but never would have guessed him to be such a wellspring of touching, funny, intelligent, and profoundly moving stories.
Tobolowsky occasionally veers into the realm of the corny, but this doesn't happen often, and I'll gladly pay that toll to hear his genuinely upbeat philosophy about life.
Listening to him talk about his life and carrier is like sitting down and talking with a good friend. I strongly recommend this book, and Tobolowsky's storytelling in general.
I have listened to hundreds of audiobooks. This one ranks in the top 5.
Alan Alda's autobiography, a bit reminiscent of Bill Bryson in some ways. The humor, sheer storytelling talent and complex intellect of the author. His depth and ability to truly feel make him seem like a friend you wish you had.
"The grandmother and the egg"
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.
Its variety! Each story was truly something unique and different; there was certainly no predicting what would come next.
Mr. Tobolowsky's honesty, candor, and humor.
To choose a single "favorite" would be impossible because the book was highly entertaining.
The stories that stand out the most in my mind having now finished the book are the scene from the grocery store and the scene involving the stray dog. The aforementioned for hitting me with something I definitely did not see coming, and the latter for absolutely tearing at my heartstrings and making me cry in car.
Had that been a remote possibility, I wouldn't have ruled it out. Given that the book is almost 12 hours, that was not really going to happen.
A great listen.
YES! I imagine it reads very well, but what makes the book so incredibly powerful is hearing it in Tobolowsky's own voice. There are many personal moments, some uplifting, some heartbreaking, and to hear Tobolowsky tell the tale with such passion and emotion made the book for me. Needless to say that is lost in the print version.
The way Tobolowsky can make you laugh and cry and then laugh again, all in the space of a few minutes.
This is one of the few audiobooks that I listened to again within days after finishing it. Considering it is nearly 12 hours long, that is high praise indeed!
I just didn't want to be done with those stories.
Stephen Tobolowsky’s “The Dangerous Animals Club” is a charming, insightful, and often funny memoir delivered in the form of non-chronological stories that somehow make perfect sense in their seemingly random sequence. As to be expected, some stories are better than others, but the really good ones are so captivating that I had to stop everything else I was doing and just listen in awe. The not-so-good ones were still okay. And while I was bored by his many bible references, they were short enough to be bearable.
Stephen’s performance was funny and flawless.
The Dangerous Animals Club is a fantastic book, both in audio format, as well as hardcover. If you're familiar with Stephen Tobolowsky or The Tobolowsky Files podcast, you'll immediately recognize these stories, albeit in greater detail / length. He also spins the stories together in more of a single timeline than with the podcast episodes, making the book feel more like one cohesive story, comprised of many smaller pieces.
If you're not familiar with his stories, you owe it to yourself to give this a listen. I've rarely (if ever) found such well-told stories that can make you laugh out loud and tear up at the same time. The manner in which the stories are told endear the author to the reader, making you connect to the stories personally. While immensely entertaining, the stories are filled with innumerable life lessons.
Having the stories read by the author makes this infinitely better. If read by anyone else, these amazing stories would have fallen flat.
All in all, The Dangerous Animals Club is story-telling at its best. I don't feel that there's much else to be said about this wonderful book, which will be reflected in the brief nature of the rest of this review.
I'm not sure what to compare these stories to. Other famous story-tellers like Garrison Keillor and Baxter Black are fantastic in their own right, but considerably different in their delivery and content.
I've really never seen / read / heard anything similar to these stories.
Absolutely, if given the time to do so.
Be aware that, while most are completely family-friendly, a couple of the stories contain some language that may not be appropriate for younger listeners, specifically "A Wager With Freddy." Great story, but you may not want to listen with young ears around.
Thoughtful, wise, generous in its conclusions and full of the mystery of life. The author allows all kinds of intelligence to manifest and respect in his way of seeing the world and our life paths.
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