Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Becoming Richard Pryor', a Biography by Scott Saul.
In Becoming Richard Pryor by Scott Saul, we follow the life and times of Richard Pryor from his childhood forward. A man, a legend, a beleaguered and talented personality ahead of his time, and always on display in some form or other. Pryor did not come from privilege and in fact was raised in his families various brothels. Even outside the norm they had a strong sense of family that Richard clung to. An outcast as a youngster he found his calling early in drama and comedy, the one thing that helped him to pretend he was someone else.
As he grew and continued learning his trade he did what he could to get strong and better, often using his own harrowing background to dredge up and poke fun at those things that he most feared. With his raucous comedy and on to his acting he became a voice in a generation looking for what he had to offer. Yet never one to be stationary, Pryor continued to evolve even when he was burning himself out with drugs he was able to move forward and stay in the limelight. From his loves to his decline you will find the story of his life and his climb to fame remarkable. The strength of will to overcome the disbelievers, and the make his mark in not just comedy with his stand-up routines and improvisation, but then to move on and not just act but to write much of the dialog in his parts in such successful comedies as Blazing Saddles and Blue collar, where he become friends with Gene Wilder another rising star.
A Black entertainer Pryor helped to galvanize the spirit of the black freedom movement and counterculture thereby solidifying the legend of who he became. A product of his times he was a part of the drug culture as well as the sexual revolution and with his burning passion these actions too, become a part of the whole, driving him further into an inferno of fame. To come from obscurity and move mountains to become a legend only to disappear again into obscurity leave you aching with the pain of his passing. Even now there are many who stylize themselves after Richard Pryor, he set the standards in a way that will forever remain, a standard that survives and strengthens his repute and legend. There is so much we take for granted of those who grace our lives with comedy and drama, it is the unknown tales that tie it all together, and Scott Saul has done just that.
If you enjoy biographical works and are a fan of Richard Pryor or even just enjoy learning about those who have lived before us you will be intrigued and immersed in a life of love, laughter and pain. A great deal of pain.
This would be a great book for a book club or reading group. The amazing growth of a star through the culture of the times will create an amazing amount of questions and dialogue.
This work was received free through the publisher. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.