- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Algonquin Books; First Edition edition (November 5, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1616200782
- ISBN-13: 978-1616200787
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 82 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #934,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him Hardcover – November 5, 2013
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, November 2013: Richard Pryor was nobody's hero. The man sired accidental children, lived most of his life as a junkie, and even set himself on fire, but he was also one of the twentieth century's most notable American geniuses. With the release of Furious Cool, brothers David and Joe Henry have written the definitive tribute to Pryor's momentous cultural legacy. But this is no straightforward biography: structured as a long series of roughly chronological vignettes, the resulting impressionistic portrait mirrors the flights of fancy that marked Pryor's most memorable stand-up comedy performances. Like Lenny Bruce before him and Bill Hicks later, Pryor's fearlessness as a performer not only yielded incomparable recorded performances but also changed audience expectations and widened the art form forever after. Sensitive to this transformative import, Henry and Henry nevertheless portray Pryor the man with all of his failings in the full glare of the spotlight. In the 25 years between his self-immolation and his eventual passing, Pryor's creative output went from bad (The Toy, Brewster's Millions) to sad ("Richard Pryor at the Helm of Comedy"), but nothing in his long, slow fall from an admittedly twisted grace diminishes his accomplishments, and Furious Cool resists the fan's impetus toward hagiography in favor of an artistic performance of the written word that does lovely justice to a brilliant, tortured man. --Jason Kirk
“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
“An addictively readable study of the path of this outsized talent . . . [A] blazing entertainment history to authoritative meditation on culture.” ―Esquire
“The brothers David and Joe Henry--a screenwriter and songwriter--note early in this book, ‘At times, both of us have wondered whether Richard Pryor was truly ours to approach.’ After deciding they felt ‘not a racial but a human kinship’ to Pryor, they forged ahead, and we should be glad they did . . . Loving but clear-eyed, the book conveys how brilliant and maddening Pryor could be.” ―The New York Times
“The flames of genius burn bright and all too often too briefly. Incendiary, foulmouthed comic icon Richard Pryor changed the face of comedy and possessed, as biographers David and Joe Henry put it, a Furious Cool.” ―Vanity Fair
“A sleek, highly literate biography that places the comic in the pop-cultural context of his times.” ―Bloomberg News
“Furious Cool is a fabulous history, alive with fascinating characters both reacting to and creating world-changing events; it is a study of the seismic cultural shifts of the second half of the twentieth century, when everything we knew about music, literature, television, theater, and yes, comedy, was turned upside down and sideways, blowing our minds and resetting all expectations; it is a documentary of epic proportions, based as it is upon mountains of research (all of it refined, sifted, and clarified); it is a love song and a dirge and silly ditty and a symphony of every emotion . . . Every person on the planet has to find his or her way to the truth of life's unfairness, beauty, sadness, opportunities and limits. That I could get myself part way there riding on waves of laughter was a wonderful gift, and it was Pryor's gift. Furious Cool reminds me of his present, and his presence, and for this, I give thanks to the Henry brothers.” ―The Huffington Post
“It would be enough if Furious Cool was a profile of Pryor's uncanny talents, psychic turmoil, and ungovernable behavior, but it's also a fascinating history of black comedy . . . Furious Cool captures Pryor’s frenetic routines and stage presence on the page . . . The inextricable legacy of Richard Pryor―his boldness, inventiveness, candor, and empathy―lives on.” ―Los Angeles Magazine
“A beautifully written account of the troubled life of a manic genius.” ―Booklist, starred review
“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
“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
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I would recommend this book to a mature audience, it is well worth reading.
The author spent great care in discussing Pryor's upbringing in Peoria.
The one thing I thought was not discussed in detail that I wanted covered more was Pryor in the late 1960s and early 1970s and that how impacted his personal habits which impacted his art. There was not the depth that I expected in that area, but perhaps I am expecting too much. I won't grade this on what it isn't but rather on what it is. And that is a fantastic book on Pryor.