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Furious cool : Richard Pryor and the world that made him /
David Henry and Joe Henry.
edition
1st edition
imprint
Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2013.
description
xx, 297 p.
ISBN
1616200782 (hardcover), 9781616200787 (hardcover)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
added author
imprint
Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2013.
isbn
1616200782 (hardcover)
9781616200787 (hardcover)
catalogue key
9097138
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 285-297).
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"It's been a struggle for me because I had a chance to be white and refused." --Richard Pryor 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. "It's so much easier for me to talk about my life in front of two thousand people than it is one-to-one. I'm a real defensive person, because if you were sensitive in my neighborhood, you were something to eat." --Richard Pryor 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, Joe and David 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.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2013-09-01:
The latest biography of "the world's most brilliant stand-up comedian" is the culmination of a project that took more than a decade (originally intended as a three-act screenplay) by screenwriter Henry and his brother, musician Joe. Born in 1940 in Peoria, IL, Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor III was raised by his grandmother, who ran a brothel in which his mother "also turned tricks." Raped at five by a teenage bully (who, decades later, appeared with his son seeking Pryor's autograph), Pryor found respite from his oppressive childhood by acting in local theater. Leaving the first of six wives and his first two (of seven) children, Pryor arrived in New York City in 1963, embarking on a career that spanned clubs, television, and film, finding unparalleled success as a black performer in a racially stratified industry. Universally lauded as a genius, Pryor never overcame his drug addictions, spectacularly exemplified by his 1980 freebasing-induced self-immolation. VERDICT More a compilation of assiduous research than a narrative-with irreverent profanity that echoes Pryor's performances-this book should succeed in introducing a legend to new generations. Readers raised on dystopia will find Pryor's life tragically epic.-Terry Hong, Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Richard Pryor was chain lightning to everything around him. He shocked the world through with human electricity. He blew all our comfortable balance to hell. And Furious Cool captures it brilliantly. Dave and Joe Henry have done an incredible job allowing us to experience 'the only Richard you could possibly be talking about.' Part memoir, part biography, part poem, part history, part ballad, it manages to sing a wake song for an incredible American. If Richard's comedy was theft-proof, his genius was always shared. This is a book worth savoring." --Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin "Richard Pryor was the most free black man of the 20th century. He also was a comic genius. This book gives the definitive reasons why he was so free and so sublime." --Dr. Cornel West "A beautifully written account of the troubled life of a manic genius." --Booklist, starred review "As raw and real and stream-of-consciousness as one of Pryor's routines." --Patton Oswalt, comedian "Richard Pryor lives again in the pages of Furious Cool by David and Joe Henry. With heart and grace and witnessing, they show us how and why this comic and tragic genius changed the culture of this country when he could not change himself. You may be meeting or rediscovering Pryor, but he's likely to change you, too." --Gloria Steinem "Furious Cool tracks Pryor's rise from a quick-witted kid growing up in a brothel to one of the best American comedians of all time. His hardscrabble roots and issues with substance abuse were lingering demons, but they also provided a standout career's worth of material. Writers David and Joe Henry detail both the highs and lows in an almost singsong cadence that recalls Pryor's own, referring to the legendary comedian simply as Richard." --Vogue.com "Worth reading. Those who do will be inspired to give Pryor's concert films fresh screenings." --Kirkus Reviews
"Richard Pryor was chain lightning to everything around him. He shocked the world through with human electricity. He blew all our comfortable balance to hell. And Furious Cool captures it brilliantly . . . Part memoir, part biography, part poem, part history, part ballad, it manages to sing a wakesong for an incredible American." --Colum McCann, author of "Let the Great World Spin" "Richard Pryor lives again in the pages of Furious Cool by David and Joe Henry. With heart and grace and witnessing, they show us how and why this comic and tragic genius changed the culture of this country when he could not change himself. You may be meeting or rediscovering Pryor, but he's likely to change you, too." --Gloria Steinem "As raw and real and stream-of-consciousness as one of Pryor's routines." --Patton Oswalt, comedian
"Richard Pryor lives again in the pages of Furious Cool by David and Joe Henry. With heart and grace and witnessing, they show us how and why this comic and tragic genius changed the culture of this country when he could not change himself. You may be meeting or rediscovering Pryor, but he's likely to change you, too."
Richard Pryor lives again in the pages of Furious Cool by David and Joe Henry. With heart and grace and witnessing, they show us how and why this comic and tragic genius changed the culture of this country when he could not change himself. You may be meeting or rediscovering Pryor, but he's likely to change you, too.
Richard Pryor was chain lightning to everything around him. He shocked the world through with human electricity. He blew all our comfortable balance to hell. And Furious Cool captures it brilliantly . . . Part memoir, part biography, part poem, part history, part ballad, it manages to sing a wakesong for an incredible American.
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, September 2013
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Summaries
Back Cover Copy
"Richard Pryor was chain lightning to everything around him. He shocked the world through with human electricity. He blew all our comfortable balance to hell. And Furious Cool captures it brilliantly . . . Part memoir, part biography, part poem, part history, part ballad, it manages to sing a wakesong for an incredible American." --Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin "Richard Pryor lives again in the pages of Furious Cool by David and Joe Henry. With heart and grace and witnessing, they show us how and why this comic and tragic genius changed the culture of this country when he could not change himself. You may be meeting or rediscovering Pryor, but he's likely to change you, too." --Gloria Steinem "As raw and real and stream-of-consciousness as one of Pryor's routines." --Patton Oswalt, comedian
Main Description
No one who saw Richard Pryor alone on stage with nothing but a microphone in his hand could have doubted that here was a man possessed of genius. But few have any sense of the strange, violent, and colorful landscape from which he emerged.His childhood in Peoria, Illinois, was spent just trying to survive. Yet the culture into which he was born his mother was a prostitute; his grandmother ran the whorehouse helped shaped him into one of the most influential and outstanding performers of our time.Pryor attracted admiration and anger in equal parts. He was a comedian who many consider the greatest ever, yet his triumphant stand-up work has been largely eclipsed by his mediocre movie output. His personal life was likewise something of a contradiction, because Pryor was a man of deep intelligence and sensitivity yet was also someone who could never seem to make the pieces of his life come together to create a whole. His was a fascinating, larger-than-life personality; he was as pivotal and essential a figure as Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, or Muhammad Ali. Pryor the solo artist brought to a pop-obsessed generation the news that they had a past with deep roots that spoke to our shared humanity. Through David and Joe Henry, Richard Pryor speaks to us still.
Main Description
No one who saw Richard Pryor alone on stage with nothing but a microphone in his hand could have doubted that here was a man possessed of genius. But few have any sense of the strange, violent, and colorful landscape from which he emerged. His childhood in Peoria, Illinois, was spent just trying to survive. Yet the culture into which he was born-his mother was a prostitute; his grandmother ran the whorehouse-helped shaped him into one of the most influential and outstanding performers of our time. Pryor attracted admiration and anger in equal parts. He was a comedian who many consider the greatest ever, yet his triumphant stand-up work has been largely eclipsed by his mediocre movie output. His personal life was likewise something of a contradiction, because Pryor was a man of deep intelligence and sensitivity yet was also someone who could never seem to make the pieces of his life come together to create a whole. His was a fascinating, larger-than-life personality; he was as pivotal and essential a figure as Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, or Muhammad Ali. Pryor the solo artist brought to a pop-obsessed generation the news that they had a past with deep roots that spoke to our shared humanity. Through David and Joe Henry, Richard Pryor speaks to us still.
Main Description
No one who saw Richard Pryor alone on stage with nothing but a microphone in his hand could have doubted that here was a man possessed of real genius. But few have any sense of the strange, violent, and colorful landscape from which he emerged. His beginnings were beyond humble, and his childhood in Peoria, Illinois, was spent just trying to survive. Yet the culture into which he was born--his mother was a prostitute; his grandmother ran the whorehouse--helped shape him into one of the most influential and outstanding performers of our time, as did the tradition of African American humour and comedy that flourished through the end of the twentieth century, and has continued into the twenty-first. As a performer, Pryor attracted admiration and anger in equal parts. He was a comedian whom many consider the greatest ever, yet his triumphant stand-up work has been largely eclipsed by his mediocre movie output. His personal life was likewise something of a contradiction, because Pryor was a man of deep intelligence and sensitivity yet was also someone who could never seem to make the pieces of his life come together as a whole. His was a fascinating, larger-than-life personality; he was as pivotal and essential a figure as Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, or Muhammad Ali. Pryor the solo artist brought to a pop-obsessed generation the news that they had a past with deep roots that spoke to our shared humanity. Through David and Joe Henry he speaks to us still.
Main Description
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, Joe and David 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.

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