Books by Charles Grodin

Released: April 9, 2009

"Grodin's considerable talent is dwarfed here by his self-regard."
Like his radio commentaries for CBS News, this memoir from actor-director-writer-activist Grodin (I Like It Better When You're Funny, 2002, etc.) offers kvetching in lieu of insight. Read full book review >
Released: May 28, 2002

"A mixed bag that calls for less goody-good and either more substance or more laughs."
Quondam movie actor and, latterly, deadpan TV pundit Grodin (How I Get Through Life, 1992, etc.) returns with more behind-the-scenes and in-front-of-the-camera reminiscences. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 3, 1994

Actor, director, producer Grodin (How I Get Through Life, 1992) makes an appearance as a purveyor of theatrical anecdotes. Noel Coward he's not. Written between takes during the production of his recent film Heart and Souls, this disjointed effort to depict Grodin's career as Mister Showbiz is not uniformly dull, to be sure, but the proud exhibitions of putative wit are wan indeed. After a Nixonesque assertion that, unlike the characters he has played, he is ``not a jerk,'' Grodin recounts all the clever things he's done and said. Obviously, he is no jerk, but with banalities on the order of ``sometimes life feels so short and strange,'' he's not the deepest thinker, either. This backstager sometimes reads like a parody of personal hype. ``Forgive me for this self-aggrandizement,'' he apologizes parenthetically, ``I'm trying to make a point about stupidity.'' It's not all self-centered. For example, there are comments about others—like those who didn't dig his oblique wit or couldn't handle his success. Names drop like hailstones. ``Danny Thomas was a friend of mine whom I knew through his daughter, my friend Marlo.'' Otto Preminger and Diane Sawyer, Art Carney and Oliver Stone, Gilda, Johnny, and Dustin all serve as second bananas to our Chuck. Conversations are recalled, oddly, as scripted dialogue in this stream of self-consciousness. The text begins with spirit as Grodin denies close relationship with most of the ``100 Most Powerful People in Hollywood'' and gains strength again near the end with a diary of the making of Heart and Souls, which has since turned out to be a very modest box-office draw. But, on the whole, the occasional author and full-time light comedian upstages all, including himself. If not quite a bomb, Grodin's latest presentation isn't a hit, either. It's just a dud. (First serial to Premiere; author tour) Read full book review >
HOW I GET THROUGH LIFE by Charles Grodin
Released: April 20, 1992

Actor and sometime author Grodin, droll to the brink of dull, presents some afterthoughts to his previous outing (It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here, 1989). In miniature essays, evidently written in airports and hotel rooms, Grodin offers his Philosophy of Life, step by pedestrian step. Judging from his vagrant musings, he's a nice guy in a tough world. The inspirational little pieces tend to sound like a peculiar blend of ``Dale Carnegie Goes to Hollywood (After His Bar Mitzvah)'' and sound bites from Dame Edna Everage. With his classic straight-faced delivery, Grodin, on the topic of ``being friendly,'' wonders: ``What must your average man and woman, who weren't in the movies, [have felt] if I, who was playing leading roles in movies, felt less than well treated?'' His notions are not likely to start controversy. On etiquette: ``I'd rather people just be nice and let it go at that.'' On criticism: ``If we could change half the things wrong with us, the world would be a noticeably better place.'' There are, to be sure, certain revelations befitting a celebrity's work. For example, Grodin tried writing for Michael Dukakis. And he gets all his clothes from the wardrobe department, either free or at half price (``It depends on how they feel about me when the movie's over''). Braggarts, litigation, and ``classical Muzak'' drive the author ``nuts.'' On the other hand, he is forthrightly in favor of honesty, understanding, and, generally speaking (which is his way), goodness. It's all quite affable, and one must have a genial regard for a writer who ingenuously declares that ``Nobody's perfect, especially me and you, so let's not sweat the small stuff.'' Likely to be charmingly promoted on the talk-show circuit, this performance by a fair-to-middling raconteur is what, in the old days of the movies, would have been called a ``programmer'': pleasant enough, but no Academy Award nominee. Read full book review >