I've always liked Steve Martin as an actor and comedian. I've even liked the novellas he's written. So I was curious to see what he had to say about l...moreI've always liked Steve Martin as an actor and comedian. I've even liked the novellas he's written. So I was curious to see what he had to say about life as a stand-up comic. And I was pleased and delighted that BORN STANDING UP was such a good book. The book is autobiographical but focuses on Steve Martin's evolution from amateur performer and magician at Disneyland, to the dawn of his film career beginning with THE JERK. And throughout the whole book, it's stand-up comedy that takes center stage.
Reading the book--a very quick read because I was captured by it--was like sitting in a room with Martin, having him talk about how *he* became a successful stand-up comic. One thing I liked was that he really did't try to tell anyone else How To Do It, and I imagine that is because the process is different or everyone. But there is a clear evolution to Steve Martin's career and he was very specific in the details of the things he attempted, the lucky accidents, and how he learned to be a comedic performer over the years.
Martin write colloquially but with a charming, self-deprecating style that makes the book feel more like a conversation. He is down-to-Earth and at the same time he is a force for comedy. There are hilarious moment and touching ones. All told, I'm glad I decided to pick this one up and I'm better for having read it.(less)
This book provided an incredibly vivid and in-depth look at life in ancient Rome and the birth of Christianity. I really enjoy Durant's style of writi...moreThis book provided an incredibly vivid and in-depth look at life in ancient Rome and the birth of Christianity. I really enjoy Durant's style of writing, which is clear, rational and often littered with ironic humor. I can't wait to get started on the next volume in the series, The Age of Faith.(less)
Outstanding book on the business of writing, and managing a career as a writer. This is the book I always hoped would be written and Jeff did a terrif...moreOutstanding book on the business of writing, and managing a career as a writer. This is the book I always hoped would be written and Jeff did a terrific job. It's the kind of book you have to pull out every once-in-a-while after reading it because it is so densely packed with interesting thoughts and good ideas. I highly recommend it to other writers, published or not.(less)
Wow! I just checked my list and discovered that I have never, in 15 years of record-keeping, have I rated 2-consecutive books at 5-stars. Until today....moreWow! I just checked my list and discovered that I have never, in 15 years of record-keeping, have I rated 2-consecutive books at 5-stars. Until today. On the heels of completing Connie Willis' stunning Blackout, I just zipped my way through Robert Silverberg's wonderful collection of autobiographical writings, Other Spaces Other Times. It was an absolutely terrific book, and if it had any flaw, was too short. I wanted more!
The book is broken into several parts. Silverberg discusses his beginnings in science fiction, his writing, provides and autobiography, as well as miscellaneous thoughts on his career. It is absolutely fascinating reading to anyone with an interest in the history of science fiction, but also to anyone (like myself) who is a writer, or aspires to be one. In the numerous essays, Silverberg talks honestly about his career, his approach to writing, the challenges he faced, and from this, one gets the sense of an impressive lifetime spent in science fiction. The sheer volume of writing that Silverberg was doing in the late '50s and early '60s boggles the mind. I thought Asimov was prolific, but even he does not match the quantity produced by Silverberg during this time.
I've read numerous biographies and memoirs of science fiction writers. My favorite has always been Isaac Asimov's massive 3-volumes. While Silverberg's slim book doesn't go into anywhere near as much detail as Asimov did, what is there is equally as interesting and a sheer joy to read.
The book contains an incredible amount of marginalia: photos, magazine covers, notes, all of which provides additional insight into Silverberg and his writing. It is a beautiful book, a bit pricy at $29.95, but well worth it.(less)
What a terrific book! I've long been an admirer of Cyril Kornbluth's fiction, having read His Share of Glor...moreA wonderful romp through Golden Age fandom!
What a terrific book! I've long been an admirer of Cyril Kornbluth's fiction, having read His Share of Glory in the past. And I've also learned bits and pieces of Kornbluth's life through both Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl's autobiographies. But this book gets into the details and does so in a remarkably impressive way. The book is as much about the development of science fiction from its Golden Age through the late 1950s, and a fascinating development it is.
The book is well referenced and many of the notes are just as interesting as the text itself. The cast of characters includes many of the big players of the Golden Age of science fiction. There are even fascinating glimpses of the early careers of writers such as Robert Silverberg and Harlan Ellison. But the focus of the book is on the life and career of Cyril Kornbluth. The analysis of his fiction is detailed and insightful, giving a complete picture of the development of a remarkable writer.
Much of the information comes from interviews with the people involved, or correspondence between the people involved. At times, it felt a little intrusive reading some of what must have been private mail. It is nevertheless fascinating and revealing.
The book does not paint a pretty picture of Frederik Pohl, which came as a surprise to me, considering their collaboration history as well as what Pohl had to say about Kornbluth in his memoir. In a similar vain, I was surprised with the portait painted of H. L. Gold. Despite complaints by authors who worked with Gold (including Isaac Asimov), he was a brilliant editor, if not the kindest of personalities.
This is clearly an important book for the history of science fiction and an outstanding biography of one of the Golden Age of science fiction's brightest lights. I highly recommend it to those inside the genre, and to those outside the genre who wonder what it is like to be an insider.(less)
This was the 3rd Stephen King book I've read, and the first that's non-fiction. I found it to be remarkably well-written, and enjoyable. He has down-t...moreThis was the 3rd Stephen King book I've read, and the first that's non-fiction. I found it to be remarkably well-written, and enjoyable. He has down-to-earth, common-sense advice that come from experience, and doesn't pull any punches.(less)