- Paperback: 700 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books (January 1, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140133623
- ISBN-13: 978-0140133622
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,493,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ladies and Gentlemen, Lenny Bruce: Paperback – January 1, 1992
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It is a look at Bruce from many different angles. It tells his story in the words and views of everybody that knew him.
And everyone seemed to know him in the same way. So we hear about Bruce over and over and over and over again.
The book could have been twice as good if it was half as long.
While this book was being written (completed in 1974), Goldman states that Bob Fosse was working on a film based on Lenny's life. I saw the result "Lenny", many years before reading this book, and though an entertaining film, it has little to do with the story told here. the main problem is that it is ultra-condensed, while the book tends to be excessively detailed.
Lenny had a gift, but like many geniuses had not the equivalent gift to manage it. The book does manage to give an impression of the highs and lows of Lenny's life. After reading it I searched for recordings of Lenny Bruce, and managed to find the unedited recording of the Carnegie Hall concert, know to be his most spontaneous and "best" performance. Reading the book put this into perspective. When you listen to Lenny, you may find his humour to be obscure, sort of in-jokes that you don't get right away. His appeal was more to the hip jazz musician crowd, and to them he made total sense. To the rest of the audience, it was the shock value they came for, and this is where his tragic conflict begins to eat his career, trying desperately to prove he wasn't a "dirty" comic. Lenny was not so much a comic, but a revolutionary, who went against the norms and held everything up for criticism. In the post-war era he moved in, this would be a tough apple-pie crowd for him to get on his side. Very intense story. If you were aware of Lenny's work before, the book will interest you. Otherwise it will be a long ride with an inevitable ending for those who mix hard drugs with a fast life.