And Other Life Sentences
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 Pryor reflects on a life of humor and hard living altered forever by the recent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Pryor has always been a fearless black man. His foul language, his willingness to address race and racism directly and intimately revolutionized comedy in the '60s and '70s and made way for comedians such as Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, and Joe Torry. But as Pryor explains here, aided by Gold of People magazine, he never equated people's laughing at his jokes with their liking him. His cocaine addiction and the escapades that addiction prompted led him on a wild road that some, like comic John Belushi, didn't survive. His addiction to women was equally as destructive. As he recounts in the book, he was married six times, twice to the same woman, with countless affairs in between. He recognized himself as ``the dark comic genius, the Bard of Self Destruction'' and calls MS ``the light'' that transforms his life, making him slow down and stop using drugs. What is so painful to read here is the way our culture's obsession with celebrity distances those who become famous from the honesty and love they once had. When Pryor had a heart attack scare, he says, ``My family worried themselves sick. They were probably closer to death than I was. They saw their money supply gasping for air, moaning and writhing in pain.'' It is even more shocking to read that his doctors offered all sorts of explanations for his heart troubles, but never once mentioned his cocaine addiction. They simply told him to take it easy. Pryor's analysis of Hollywood's reaction to him is similarly insightful. After the massive box-office success of his movie Richard Pryor: Live In Concert, he says that Hollywood rediscovered him. He wasn't black. He wasn't white. He was green. There are no big surprises here, this is not a celebrity tell- all. This is a powerful autobiography of a talented man who made every effort to ruin his body and his career and lived to tell the tale. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: May 30th, 1995
ISBN: 0-679-43250-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1995


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