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The Dangerous Animals Club Hardcover – September 25, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 135 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“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

"Here are some of the dangerous animals you will meet in Stephen Tobolowsky's wise, funny memoir: rattlesnakes, tarantulas, talking dogs, attic raccoons, and Hollywood agents. What a pleasure it is to learn that one of the movies' most interesting character actors is also one of its most interesting characters."—Ken Jennings, author of Maphead and Brainiac

"No one spins yarns and knits them into a lyrical fabric of self like Tobolowsky: deep, warm and a little itchy but you love it."—Marc Maron, host of WTF with Marc Maron

"You know those imaginary dinner parties where you get to invite any five people from history for an evening of amazing conversation? This book is the reason Stephen Tobolowsky has always been one of my five. He is a raconteur of the first order, and I think an evening with Beethoven, Abe Lincoln, and Winston Churchill would be made ever more fascinating for his inclusion. But it’s not just that his stories are compulsively entertaining. It’s that they resound with insight and revelation. Tobolowsky’s stories make me glad I’m alive. And they make me want to throw a dinner party every night."—Jim Beaver, actor in Deadwood and Supernatural and author of Life's That Way

"You already know Stephen Tobolowsky as an actor—his face, if not his name—but in The Dangerous Animals Club he opens his heart, soul and mind to you, along with a lot of belly laughs. He is a modern-day Job in his pursuit of an acting career, or maybe just a meaningful life. The odds seem stacked against him. And yet now, in the middle of his life, it is all within his grasp. Read this book and rejoice!"—Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, author of A Woman of Independent Means

“Funny, highly original, and quirky. Stephen Tobolowsky has written a memoir that is almost as enchanting and lovable as he is. Bravo!”Linda Bloodworth Thomason

“Hard to find a guy in Hollywood whose colossal loyalty stands right up their with his colossal talent. Now I see what shaped it all. A great book from an uncommon man!”Harry Thomason

“The actor has plenty of rich material to mine—he has been held hostage at gunpoint by a lunatic, suffered an apocalyptic infestation of fleas, barely eluded a goring by a bull, and auditioned with a broken neck—but the delight of the book is the author’s voice: wry, discursive and full of generous spirit and curiosity […] A copiously examined life rendered with humor and heart.” — Kirkus, Starred Review

“Stories that are quirky, funny and sentimental.” — Publishers Weekly

Praise for Stephen Tobolowsky's work:

"These stories are about life, and about love, and about finding inspiration in anything, and they are told with enthusiasm, and optimism, and joy for life. I hate to sound like I’m overselling it, but I think anyone who has listened to a The Tobolowsky Files will agree: They are a goddamn pleasure."—Dustin Rowles

"The Citizen Kane of podcasts."—DC Pierson of Derrick Comedy

"I LOVE THIS!"—Sarah Silverman

"Great storytelling, beautiful stuff."—Rian Johnson, director of The Brothers Bloom and Brick

"Funny, intelligent, and stylishly written..."—Booklist

"[The book] deals with… first love and heartbreak, early efforts to break into show business, and the sometimes hazy line between perception and truth…. Tobolowsky’s narratives have a haunting, elliptical quality with motifs that circle back when you least expect it—one of the advantages, he speculates, of never shooting scenes in order. Above all, they’re humane.”–Jenny Lower, Los Angeles Magazine

“Profound delight…At its core, "The Dangerous Animals Club" is about an artist's passionate, heartbreaking and sometimes hilarious commitment to his calling… What Tobolowsky brings to all his stories is a pitch-perfect ability to tell a story…That's the goal for all artists: To create work that deeply touches and moves other human beings. Stephen Tobolowsky hits the mark in "The Dangerous Animals Club." (Joseph Bednarik Portland Oregonian)

"The Dangerous Animal Club runs the gamut between the youthful, dreamlike compulsions of a brainy little boy, to the recollections and misadventures of a struggling actor in Los Angeles in the past 30 years, and in between you have story-telling at its finest: well-written, poignant, hysterical, heart-wrenching and above all — wise." (Domingo Martinez, bestselling author of The Boy Kings of Texas)

About the Author

The quintessential character actor, Stephen Tobolowsky has appeared in more than 100 movies and more than 200 television shows in his career (USA TODAY recently noted that he was the ninth most frequently seen actor in film today). Along the way his roles have spanned almost all aspects of being a working actor, from the big-budget and Oscar Award-worthy (as head of the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi Burning), to the cult phenomenon (Groundhog Day), to the buzzworthy (Glee). But despite a lifetime devotion to the craft of acting that also includes a classical theater training and a Tony Award nomination, you probably wouldn't recognize him if you saw him on the street. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (September 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451633157
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451633153
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #883,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Stephen Tobolowsky sez:

"I am a character actor. Even though I have been in hundreds of shows, I am not famous by any unit of measure. You would recognize me if you saw me at the coffee shop. Not necessarily as an actor. There is a fifty-fifty chance you might think I was the guy that used to work there. Or a science teacher at your high school. Or the man who sold insurance to your parents. "

I say to Tobolowsky, "You're wrong." The moment I saw your name attached to this book, I knew exactly who the author was--though I AM that girl who sits in the movie theater and reads every last credit religiously. Anyway, I didn't decide to read The Dangerous Animals Club because you're semi-famous, or because I'm a fan, or anything like that. It was the book description's promise that "woven through these tales are lessons in Jewish mysticism, quantum physics, and stagecraft." What are the odds? All my favorite things! It's the first clue that Stephen Tobolowsky is more than the narrow image viewers have seen.

In truth, the Jewish mysticism and quantum physics were fairly limited in scope, but there was a reasonable amount of stagecraft covered. This is unsurprising, as Mr. Tobolowsky has had a phenomenal career on both the small and large screens, as well as the stage. Backstage stories are generally entertaining, and hearing the stories from when he was just getting started were fascinating. As was the dawning recognition of just who the oft-mentioned, longtime girlfriend "Beth" was. (Hint: Any theater-lover will be familiar with her name.)

This collection of stories is by no means a celebrity memoir. As Mr. Tobolowsky asserts, he's barely a celebrity. He is, however, an accomplished story-teller.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
OK, so first the disclaimer: I know the author from when he lived in Dallas. This gives me the unique perspective of actually knowing some of the people described in the book, and I can attest that Stephen's prose beautifully tells us the essence of who they are.

This book does not focus on the glamour and glitz of Hollywood. Instead it focuses on the everyday events in the life of a person that just happened to have led to Hollywood. What is unique about the book is how the author regards each of these ordinary events as something extraordinary. Whether it is the imaginings of a child or doing the laundry, the author will find something entrancing, hilarious, or beautiful about it; and what he does find will enchant, amuse, and stir the reader. The book in a thoroughly entertaining fashion shows us how the most mundane events in our lives, when viewed through the proper eyes, can be something to treasure. All of these stories reward; and when the reader is finished, he finds himself wishing for more. Whether I know the author or not, I will not be alone in giving it five stars.
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By Dobbs on September 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As memorable a character actor as he is, he's even more gifted as an author. Mr. Tobolowsky's stories are fantastic. If he's not a natural storyteller then he must put a hell of a lot of hours into it because, damn it, he's had me in tears on multiple occasions -- and when I'm not crying I'm laughing. Each story is enlightening and inspiring. I hope this is the first book of many to come.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Mr. Tobolowsky opens his memoir with a scene from his childhood searching for dangerous animals in Texas. He then teases the reader through his life, both triumphs and challenges, dealing with the most dangerous animal of all - the human. His insights, comic timing, erudition, and compassion shone through his excellent writing. Any one who uses the phrase "verbal aikido" and quotes Aristotle correctly is in my good book. I received his memoir yesterday afternoon and finished it before bed. One caveat, I had a hard time adjusting to the time switches between scenes. After hearing his interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, I was hooked. Please keep writing Mr. Tobolowsky -- the world needs to hear more from you.

S.K. Jarkins
twitter: skjarkins
gothmomz <dot> com
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The funny thing about Stephen Tobolowsky is I bought his collection of personal stories, The Dangerous Animals Club, without having a clue about the author. Yet, as I read his book, I learned that he has been a character actor in so many of my favorite television shows, most notably, Deadwood. Midway through the book, I looked him up on IMDB and I had my light-bulb moment.

As much as I enjoy watching Tobolowsky act, I think that he might be even better as a writer. The Dangerous Animals Club is a broad collection of stories from Tobolowsky's childhood, relationships and career. He even carefully delves into more contentious subjects such as religion and spirituality.

The element of his writing that struck me the most is that he comes across as very humble. He has had a lot of amazing opportunities in his life and he has a lot of great advice to impart, but it's from the angle of an every man. He writes about life and gives advice from his unique perspective, but does it in a manner that is open and accepting that other experiences might shift his perspective. Tobolowsky comes across as possessing a keen sense of self-awareness.

I enjoyed the entire book, but in particular, I really loved reading about Tobolowsky's childhood. I loved the chapter that the title of the book comes from, as Tobolowsky recounts a childhood club that he formed with friends, in which they set out to catch and collect all of the most dangerous animals that lived in their area. It's hilarious and filled with so much wonder and naiveté.

I definitely related to it with similar things that I did in my own childhood. Tobolowsky's characterization of himself as a child is just really funny.
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