Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyProfane, profound and poignant, this memoir manages to transfer much of Pryor's comic genius to the page. Aided by Gold, People magazine's Los Angeles deputy bureau chief, Pryor juxtaposes his reflections with italicized comic bits that show how he-and characters like the seen-it-all Mudbone-transmute life into comedy. Pryor grew up among whorehouses and nightclubs in Peoria, Ill., a perfect perch from which to observe racism and hypocrisy. Driven to the stage by ``pain and insecurity,'' Pryor soon overindulged in drugs and women. But it took him years to evolve on stage from a colorless Cosby clone to a bard of the ghetto. Pryor's volatile personal life-as well as Hollywood's racism, he alleges-hindered his movie career, but he built a rich body of work on television, in concert films and on stage. His story careens between topics and episodes, including his abusive relationship with women (six marriages to date), his epiphanies in Africa and his notorious self-immolation while freebasing cocaine. Now, as Pryor fights multiple sclerosis, he reflects proudly on his work and vows he has much more to do. Photos not seen by PW. (May)
Library JournalFrom the streets of Peoria to fast-paced New York and Las Vegas and beyond, Pryor tells of his struggles with drugs, women, and family and the glamorous world that is Hollywood. He reveals his upbringing with prostitutes, his having been sodomized at age six, his short-term affair with a transvestite, the infidelities that troubled his several marriages, and his current battle with multiple sclerosis. This isn't just a recitation of the fabulous anecdotes that make up Pryor's life, however, but a story told with depth and feeling-a story with mystical overtones allowing but never pleading for the reader's sympathy. It is also the story of the struggles Pryor faces within himself, resulting in a vivid account of a comedian's slow demise and self-destruction. Not at all languid, Pryor's life has been a roller-coaster ride, and he describes it in the language and voice he is known for. Recommended for most public libraries.-Shenise Ross, "Library Journal"
Bonnie Smothersryor is a funny man. After reading his memoirs, many will find that he is also a very sad man and that his tortured life has never eased up enough for him to know peace. Still, Pryor makes us look anew at the pain and suffering of life and exhorts us to "keep some sunshine" on our faces. His autobiography is brutally revealing, taking us through his childhood and adolescence in Peoria, Illinois, in a family that owned a whorehouse and worked in bars and pool halls. He found a way out of Peoria when he realized he could make people laugh, and be paid for doing it. Throughout his life he sought, as everyone does, to understand and transcend himself, but that childhood among pimps, whores, madams, and drunks left him inexorably sad. For many, his years as a cultural icon--the money, women, cocaine, self-immolation, six marriages (never could escape the whorehouse), quadruple-bypass surgery, and diagnosis of multiple sclerosis--will be a revelation. For others, the revelation will come from the understanding one can gain about the creative process. The understanding should come from the particularly effective use of structure: spliced into the narrative are bits from Pryor's performances, and the effect is devastating and outrageous. This is a work that will be discussed, and also one that many will just recall every now and then, on gloomy days, on sunny ones, acknowledging Pryor's exhortation as we serve time.
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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- 1st ed
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