In Seven Dirty Words, journalist and cultural critic James Sullivan tells the story of Alternative America from the 1950s to the present, from the singular vantage point of George Carlin, the Catholic boy for whom nothing was sacred.
A critical biography, Seven Dirty Words is an insightful (and, of course, hilarious) examination of Carlin's body of work as it pertained to the cultural times and the man who created it, from his early days as a more-or-less conventional comedian to his stunning transformation into the subversive comedic voice of the emerging counterculture. Sullivan also chronicles Carlin's struggles with censorship and drugs, as well as the full-blown renaissance he experienced in the 1990s, both personally and professionally, when he became an elder statesman to a younger generation of comics who revered him.
Seven Dirty Words is nothing less than the definitive biography of an American master who changed the world and also a work of cultural commentary that frames George Carlin's extraordinary legacy.
"An excellent account of the life and work of an important and greatly missed artist." (Booklist)
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Couldn't Get Halfway Through
Obviously not, since I decided not to continue before getting even halfway through. There is nothing wrong with the book, it was just not as interesting as I expected. I love George Carlin and have quoted his bits my whole life, and I was interested in understanding how he developed his unique brand of comic observation of modern life. After five hours of listening, I discovered nothing remarkable there, and I grew tired of listening to what amounted to a detailed long-form version of Carlin's CV.
He could have written in more of Carlin's actual comic bits, analyzing where in his history they came from. There are some short examples (how he got his weatherman schtick from Bob and Ray), but not enough, and not all that interesting (his weatherman schtick for example, was lifted straight out of Bob and Ray). Again, nothing wrong with any of this, just not that interesting for me, and I'm a huge Carlin fan.
He sounds like he can barely contain himself from laughing out loud as he reads Carlin's lines. Unfortunately, he sounds that way even when he's reading straight exposition as well -- a bit disconcerting.
Definitely, if it was a 60- or 90-minute documentary with a healthy dose of clips of Carlin performing (especially if they were able to unearth some of his early TV work). But as a 10-hour audiobook with someone else reciting his lines (and not enough of them), it just didn't grab me.
I've read similar books about other pop culture figures that I admire -- Woody Allen, J.D. Salinger, Harpo Marx, the Beatles and other rock figures. I tried this book out because I had enjoyed all of those and anticipated a similar experience learning about Carlin's background and career. But this book feels like Carlin's sports reports -- "Here are some scores: 4-1, 3-2, 5-4, and a partial score, Baltimore 3." In other words, incomplete. Which is how I left it. If the second half is better, let me know and I'll try finishing it.
narator sucks nothing new
if it was interesting and they audio didn't skip and was all in the same volume
proof listeners should be implemented