Synopses & Reviews
No one who saw Richard Pryor alone on stage with nothing but a microphone in his hand could have doubted that here was a man possessed of genius. But few have any sense of the strange, violent, and colorful landscape from which he emerged.
His childhood in Peoria, Illinois, was spent just trying to survive. Yet the culture into which he was born — his mother was a prostitute; his grandmother ran the whorehouse — helped shaped him into one of the most influential and outstanding performers of our time.
Pryor attracted admiration and anger in equal parts. He was a comedian who many consider the greatest ever, yet his triumphant stand-up work has been largely eclipsed by his mediocre movie output. His personal life was likewise something of a contradiction, because Pryor was a man of deep intelligence and sensitivity yet was also someone who could never seem to make the pieces of his life come together to create a whole. His was a fascinating, larger-than-life personality; he was as pivotal and essential a figure as Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, or Muhammad Ali. Pryor the solo artist brought to a pop-obsessed generation the news that they had a past with deep roots that spoke to our shared humanity. Through David and Joe Henry, Richard Pryor speaks to us still.
"Richard Pryor was chain lightning to everything around him. He shocked the world through with human electricity. He blew all our comfortable balance to hell. And Furious Cool captures it brilliantly....Part memoir, part biography, part poem, part history, part ballad, it manages to sing a wakesong for an incredible American." Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin
"Richard Pryor lives again in the pages of Furious Cool by David and Joe Henry. With heart and grace and witnessing, they show us how and why this comic and tragic genius changed the culture of this country when he could not change himself. You may be meeting or rediscovering Pryor, but he's likely to change you, too." Gloria Steinem
Addictively readable . . . Someday, when fewer people know Richard Pryor s name, Furious Cool will be the best defense against the worst sort of forgetting--the kind that involves who we are now, who we loved once, and why. Esquire
Richard Pryor was arguably the single most influential performer of the second half of the twentieth century, and certainly he was the most successful black actor/comedian ever. Controversial and somewhat enigmatic during his life, Pryor s performances opened up a whole new world of possibilities, merging fantasy with angry reality in a way that wasn t just new--it was theretofore unthinkable. Now, this groundbreaking and revelatory work brings him to life again both as a man and as an artist, providing an in-depth appreciation of his talent and his lasting influence, as well as an insightful examination of the world he lived in and the myriad influences that shaped both his persona and his art.
A testament to Pryor s] stature not only as an African-American entertainment idol but also as an American icon . . . The Henrys exuberant tribute may well evoke renewed interest in a performance genius who remade the face of American stand-up comedy. The New York Times Book Review
A sleek, highly literate biography that places the comic in the pop-cultural context of his times. Bloomberg News
Richard Pryor was the most free black man of the twentieth century. He also was a comic genius. This book gives the definitive reasons why he was so free and so sublime. Dr. Cornel West
David Henry and Joe Henry have brought Richard Pryor back to pulsating life, affirming both his humanity and his immortality as a comic--and tragic--genius . . . Furious Cool is a fabulous history, alive with fascinating characters.
The Huffington Post
"It's been a struggle for me because I had a chance to be white and refused." — Richard Pryor
Richard Pryor was arguably the single most influential performer of the second half of the twentieth century,and certainly he was the most successful black actor/comedian ever. Controversial and somewhat enigmatic in his lifetime, Pryor's performances opened up a new world of possibilities, merging fantasy with angry reality in a way that wasn't just new — it was heretofore unthinkable.
"It's so much easier for me to talk about my life in front of two thousand people than it is one-to-one. I'm a real defensive person, because if you were sensitive in my neighborhood, you were something to eat." — Richard Pryor
His childhood in Peoria, Illinois, was spent just trying to survive. Yet the culture into which Richard Pryor was born — his mother was a prostitute; his grandmother ran the whorehouse — helped him evolve into one of the most influential and outstanding performers of our time.
About the Author
David Henry is a screenwriter, and his brother Joe Henry is a songwriter/singer as well as a music producer. Furious Cool is their first book. They are also at work on a screenplay based on Pryor’s life and career.