Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Week 42: Last Words by George Carlin

I've always been fascinated by George Carlin, because despite his reputation, he always struck me as a visionary.

Prior to reading this posthumous "sortabiography", I knew that he had been arrested a few times, had something to do with a Supreme Court case regarding freedom of speech, that he used the seven words you couldn't say on television (frequently), that he played "The Conductor" on Shining Time State (how random) and that he was an energetic and funny guy. I also knew he died a few years back.

I didn't know how much I didn't know about George Carlin.

George was an individual and defaulted to comedy because there was no easy vocation into which he could fit. Although he was married twice and had a daughter, it's very clear he wasn't as attached to his family as he was to his work. (To a fault, he noted, more than once.) His life was about perfecting his art, creating a new craft, taking it to the next level. I had always thought his goal was to shock, but in actuality, it was to provoke thought. (They're not that far apart.)

This book was beautifully written and contained words I'd never even heard of, and I don't mean profanity. George was surprisingly deep, a poet, a true lover of words, who used a sizeable and challenging vocabulary. I did not expect to find such eloquence in this book. (Of course, it's well-seasoned with all things profane, so if you have any aversion to such language, steer clear.)

Finally, as you might guess, this book was funny. More than a few times, my husband caught me giggling to myself. It was an honest account of a guy who did the best he could with a screwed up life. It was a conversation, really, something that was interactive rather than completely narrative. As if I was sitting with George, listening to him tell these stories. Few books have commanded my undivided attention the way this one did.

Lost Lunatic, you're going to pee yourself laughing on this one.

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