This is the third Richard Pryor biography I have read and I will say it is the most insightful and gives many explanations of his gifted talent and his endearing nature. Saul isn't a completely unwelcome presence in the text - there are times when his opinions help to contextualize Pryor's art. Likewise his daughter Elizabeth is actually a professor of history at Smith College. Audiences felt plugged directly into the socket of life. All I can do is sit back in awe and appreciate the comedy he brought the world.
A product of his times he was a part of the drug culture as well as the sexual revolution and with his burning passion these actions too, become a part of the whole, driving him further into an inferno of fame. The strength of will to overcome the disbelievers, and the make his mark in not just comedy with his stand-up routines and improvisation, but then to move on and not just act but to write much of the dialog in his parts in such successful comedies as Blazing Saddles and Blue collar, where he become friends with Gene Wilder another rising star. The author marks this as the end of Pryor's period of true genius and it's hard to disagree. I loved his salty wit, his characters and his honest, no holds barred view of life, politics and racism. The book is well researched but most of all what I enjoy is that the book doesn't portray This is the third Richard Pryor biography I have read and I will say it is the most insightful and gives many explanations of his gifted talent and his endearing nature. And between the first few and last few chapters, the book suffers from stale storytelling: this happened, then that happened, then this happened, etc. After all, the man was anything but politically-correct.
While well researched, for me it was slow reading. Scott Saul's superb storytelling is a perfect match for his subject--he keeps you mesmerized, laughing, crying, stunned, hungry, and above all, surprised. Yet caused many other pain on a personal level in his life. So I tried to make my tone as narrator more measured. What inspired you to create the website and what do you hope to accomplish with it? If you were any kind of fan and enjoy in-depth biographies - that also gives a sense of the times that fostered most of his comedy - grab this one. Yet I got the impression from Saul that it was no biggie in the grand scheme of things. It will be hard to watch his work with the same pleasure after coming to grips with how horrible he often was in his actual life.
I wished that he had not always had such a detached view when narrating certain parts. Maybe not academically, but in other ways. Another light-hearted section was where the author recounts one practical joke that Richard played on his drama teacher. Saul isn't a completely unwelcome presence in the text - there are times when his opinions help to contextualize Pryor's art. He brought that trembling vitality to Hollywood, where his movie career—Blazing Saddles, the buddy comedies with Gene Wilder, Blue Collar—flowed directly out of his spirit of creative improvisation.
Better written and more thoughtful than David and Joe Henry's Furious Cool. There was no historical monograph on the history of Peoria, so I had to do a lot of spade work myself to reconstruct what it was like for a black boy, born in 1940, to grow up in the red light district of Peoria. To come from obscurity and move mountains to become a legend only to disappear again into obscurity leave you aching with the pain of his passing. It's not another word for it. Writing a biography is a marathon, I think. Saul pins down just what was fact and what fiction, tracing Pryor's life from childhood until 1974, just as Pryor's career began to take off. Later, the teacher remarked how well behaved and nice those women were.
The second incident that stood out to me was one involving his third wife. The people in his life that affected him so much. What i found disappointing but ultimately creative was the fact that the writer pretty much ends the biography not upon his death, but when his creativity seemed to leave him. Audiences felt plugged directly into the socket of life. The cost of any additional sessions can be worked out with your mentor. Becoming Richard Pryor reveals itself to be not simply a biography, but the compassionate map of a terra incognita.
I knew Richard was a revolutionary, incendiary, self-destructive comic oddly, not unlike fellow Peorian Sam Kinison. Becoming Richard Pryor is the product of a decade's worth of research by a serious academic and Harper's Magazine contributor Scott Saul. Those who loved Pryor during his heyday formed an intimate bond with him as an artist. The profoundly enigmatic and brilliantly damaged Pryor is painted on these pages with brushstrokes both broad and intimately detailed. What starts as a procedural on the making of an artist becomes a story of a man desperate to be free. I am left with ambivalent feelings about Pryor that taint my feelings about the book.
I mean, geez, almost 100 pages of endnotes. But Scott Saul editorializes a bit too much for my taste, emphasizing over and over again his interpretation of the curves of Pryor's contradictions instead of letting the man's life speak for itself. Pryor ran down the street, burning, with police in chase trying to help him. What I found particularly enlightening was the exposition on the emotional depth and inner intellectual life that Pryor maintained. Scott Saul's book has reaffirmed that early opinion. There is so much we take for granted of those who grace our lives with comedy and drama, it is the unknown tales that tie it all together, and Scott Saul has done just that. Pryor was perhaps the entertainer who most successfullym arried the subversive spirits of the black freedom movement and the counterculture and then smuggled them into the American mainstream.