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Last Words: A Memoir by George Carlin
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Last Words: A Memoir (2009)

by George Carlin

Other authors: Tony Hendra (Author)

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
George Carlin was the greatest, not only at using words, but at telling us what we miss when we look right at the elephant standing in plain sight. This 'sortabiography' was culled together from 15 years of tapes and notes of Tony Hendra's, so going into it, the writing is a little stilted. In a large part of the the book, there is fluidity and great history—George's parents, birth, growing up, education, street education!, going into comedy, family, drugs, people, TV, movies, touring, books, and words. George goes deep, speaking about how his brain works and how his career rose, fell, and then hit the summit. Nothing is left out, pouring over the details of a typical, dysfunctional family, his role as a husband and father, and the death of his first wife. His whole life is left splayed open in the book, with plenty of words.

Unfortunately, the book was not written all in one go. There are great details about his early life, up through the '70s, then the voice was lost. The storytelling becomes a little choppy, and the details drop off as the years go by, either by George's own volition, or loss of thought. And to better get through the book, George's speech style should really be adopted—this enhances the reading ten-fold! And visually, the arms and jaw are flailing!

The greatest comedian of our time left too soon, but he did leave some of his best thoughts and the meaning behind his words. ( )
  jimcripps | May 2, 2013 |
A must read for every fan of Carlin, and those who want a look inside the mind of the word-obsessed, meaning-searching stand-up comedian. What we find inside is not always pretty, but it's as honest and truthful as any memoir can be.

While the book is, at times, uproariously funny, the focus here is not on comedy, but on how comedy is made. Humor, it turns out, is no laughing matter. Carlin worked meticulously on notes on topics, slowly and carefully shaping his 'bits' over years, carefully nursing them until they were ready for public view.

This book, too, was decades in the making, and the effort paid off. Those who hate Carlin will find reason here to find him as the self-centered, uncaring, drug addled freak that they expect. And those who love Carlin will find the working class intellectual who rose above two-dimensional shtick to rip the lid off polite society and show it for the hateful, greedy, violent mess that it is, and did so with great humor.

They're each part of who George Carlin was, and what made his work unique. I miss him, I miss his work, and I am grateful that this book invited in one last time.
  kenrg | Apr 10, 2013 |
It's a little strange writing a review on a biographical piece of literature because if you don't have any interest in the person the book is about... then why would you read the book? The sortabiography [sic] that is "Last Words" is the most complete picture you will ever get of George Carlin--the young boy, the rebel, the comedian, the actor, the husband, and the father. Nothing is held back in these pages either, so the reader will learn about his childhood escapades in Brooklyn, his cocaine addiction, and his health problems right alongside his success, pursuit for identity, and reflections on his personal life.

George Denis Patrick Carlin set the bar high for comedians, taking what was once called the "vulgar art" and turning it into something more. When he passed away at the age of 71, he had appeared on the "Tonight Show" more than 130 times, 14 HBO specials, and 3 best-selling books. Eleven of his 23 solo albums were Grammy-nominated, and he took home the statue five times. He was awarded the Freedom of Speech Award by the First Amendment Center in 2002 and named the 11th recipient of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2008. I know that am I not alone when I say George Carlin will be truly missed, and I thank him for making me appreciate the power of language like no one else ever has. ( )
2 vote Aerthos | Dec 8, 2010 |
I doubt George intended his autobiography to be inspirational, but it was. Comedians' autobiography's are rarely funny - Mark Twain's in particular was downright depressing - but George did work in his signature humor in places. It was interesting to read his evolution as an artist and as a man. I always enjoyed Carlin's intelligence and caustic wit, but I have a new respect for him having read his story. I would highly recommend this to anyone who isn't flustered by the odd F-bomb. The words, of course, are innocent! I'm saddened knowing there will be no more of his unique humor in the world. ( )
  grundlecat | Oct 3, 2010 |
I read biographies to gain insight into another person's life, to experience their pains and pleasures, their beauty and bruises. Carlin does not disappoint. You get the full experience of growing up Irish in NYC, stealing bikes, going to mass and making trouble. He spills on everything and everyone, himself not excluded. He's a prick to the bitter end and that's what made him great. I winced at his drug use, laughed at handling his daughter's boyfriend with a baseball bat, and cheered when he took on authority. He was no saint and doesn't pretend to be; his rant on the concept of God will live forever. His wife passed away with only a few details mentioned. I wanted to hear him expand on that, to see less of the angry, bitter Carlin (there's plenty of that) but I understand that might have been too painful. ( )
  tbert204 | Sep 4, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
George Carlinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hendra, TonyAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Gee, he was here a moment ago...
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First words
Sliding headfirst down a vagina with no clothes on and landing in the freshly shaven crotch of a screaming woman did not seem to be part of God's plan for me.
Quotations
I have this real moron thing I do? It's called thinking.
Last words
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An autobiography that the late comedian nearly completed before he died chronicles his storied career, during which he pushed the boundaries of comedy and language and influenced several generations of performers.

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