RIDING THE ELEPHANT by Craig Ferguson

RIDING THE ELEPHANT

A Memoir of Altercations, Humiliations, Hallucinations, and Observations
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A memoir in essays by the former host of The Late Late Show.

In this follow-up of sorts to his 2009 memoir America on Purpose, comedian and former talk show host Ferguson has assembled an eclectic volume of introspective essays that broadly reflect on his life experiences and travels. The author covers some familiar ground from his previous memoir: his Scottish heritage, bouts with alcoholism and path to sobriety, marriages and children. Here, he directs his attention to some of his more memorable moments, including a conversation he had as a teenager with a young dying woman that has haunted him years later; an interaction with an Australian bartender that brought his issues with drinking into sharp focus; and confronting his fear of flying by taking flying lessons. “What flying taught me wasn’t just how to control an airplane,” he writes. “It taught me about perspective. Not just the view from the plane but about myself, where I am in the world and the extent of my abilities. It taught me to be honest about myself.” Ferguson rarely references other celebrities, refreshingly avoiding name-dropping. When he does mention a well-known figure, he uses it to great effect, as in his story about meeting Princess Diana. Within the context of a broader discussion of mortality, his few lines on Diana capture her luminous qualities. “I remember her eyes and her hair and her whiter-than-white teeth—like an American’s—but what I remember most vividly is how easy it was to make her laugh….I forgot about my nerves while I talked to her; she made me forget myself for a while. I can’t say anything much nicer about a person.” Ferguson is a natural storyteller, sharp-witted and acutely observant of his surroundings. He’s capable of maintaining a light touch yet his stories often transcend whatever humorous incidents may occur. Collectively, they serve as often poignant meditations on the long journey toward his late-middle-aged self.

An entertaining memoir by a humorist who has gained enlightening insight into living an authentic life.

Pub Date: May 7th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-525-53391-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Blue Rider Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2019




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