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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"A beautifully written account of the troubled life of a manic genius." ( Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • shopper
  • GROSSE POINTE, MI, United States
  • 01-05-15

Great

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A very complex man

Great book for Richard Pryor fan... Genius or madman or maybe both.... Good book overall...

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Unabridged Richard

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • TIMOTHY
  • BARRINGTON, IL, United States
  • 03-24-15

Pryor(sic) experience a must.

Would you listen to Furious Cool again? Why?

No, I can only hear the "N" word so many times before I start feeling soiled. I got the picture in the first reading.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

I like relevant minutia in my Bios, and this had plenty.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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.

Any additional comments?

Good effort by the reader to do a Richard Pryor impersonation..,,,but........FAIL.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Bravo!

I really enjoyed this biography of Richard Pryor. The authors did a great job of capturing the very essence of Pryor's character. Sometimes, though, the authors' way of presenting this story seemed too over-the-top poetic for the very simple and down-to-earth Stand-up comedian. I thought all of the flowery sentences were unnecessary.

The Narrator performed excellently, at times sounding like you were setting in the audience listening to Pryor doing one of his routines. I could listen to this book over and over. I recommend it, especially to those, like myself, who adored this genius.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The king

It's hard to mess up Richard Pryor's colorful life, we will never have another Pryor.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • JMKIII58
  • Clarksville, TN, United States
  • 06-21-17

AN OUTSTANDING BOOK

on the life of Richard Pryor. Narrated by Dione Graham. Brilliantly told by him. This book reveals the genius and the pain of Richard Pryor. Pryor took the best of the comedians before him. Raise the standard of greatness for all who have came after him. The drug use, the women and his difficult beginning in Peoria Illinois. Its all here for the reader to enjoy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Appreciation Unnoticed

This book was challenging, I appreciated Pryor 's genious,even though I would wince through the profanity, but also understanding the descriptions gave you a clarity about what he was saying. You could never say I didn't know what he
meant.
Moreover his profanity explicitly and appropriately described the narrative.
I am 79 years old and harshness of life does not surptise me. Proyor
put the harshness of truth in your face and made it palitable through humor and satire unfortunately at his own expense.

Thank you for telling a story in the light of truth and giving him the dignity he deserved for his talent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Good book

It was interesting to read about the amazing Richard Pryor. The book was a bit dry, but ok.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

a must read!

This is much more than a book about the great Richard Pryor. It is an istute history lesson of Black America and the many obstacles of the convoluted American dream. David and Joe Henry take you on a trip through Jim Crow to the rise of the Black Panthers while putting a spotlight on the legends of comedy. Dion Graham's narration was masterful and even hit the timing on Richard's jokes. WELL DONE

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • MR M P GOULDER
  • 11-09-16

Incredible incite...

unbelievable. I learnt so much about this tortured genius. Well paced and mixed with his best works.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jan
  • 05-27-18

Furious Selfabsorbed

You always think that comedians is a barre of laughs. This is the story of an asshole that made us, who didn't know him private, laugh. However, very few People who knew him offstage found him funny at All. Abusive, complicated, narcissistisk, is the best description of Richard Pryor. He stabbed a guy, he didn't know, 6 times in the back wirh a knife He beat all his girlfriends and let when they became preagnant, abused everyone around him, and treated everyone so bad that not even his hometown wanted to recognise him when he became Word famous. This is the story of a life wasted.