Author: Artie Lange with Anthony Bozza
Published By: Spiegel & Grau, 2008
Book Specs: 298 pages
Book Category: Autobiography, Memoir
This is the autobiography of Artie Lange — perhaps best known as a member of The Howard Stern Show, which he joined in 2001. He was also on MADtv during the first season and has had roles in movies such as Dirty Work and Beer League. He is also a stand-up comedian who performs all over the country.
Born into a working-class Italian family in Union, New Jersey, Mr. Lange was a “typical” American kid — obsessed with sports, girls … and comedy. At age 18, his beloved father suffers a fall and becomes a quadriplegic. This family tragedy pushes Lange over the edge, and he begins to dull his pain with alcohol and eventually drugs. Although his addiction develops and blossoms over the years, he pulls himself together enough to escape the confines of a the working class life he was “meant for” and throws himself into pursuing a comedy career.
Despite his own best efforts to sabotage himself, he finds success and lands a role as a cast member on MADtv. But the money and the pressure start to take its toll, and Lange turns to cocaine to help him deal. He eventually spirals out of control and is let go from the cast and forced into rehab. He eventually puts himself together, scores a film role and then … falls into drugs again — this time heroin. He somehow lands a spot on The Stern Show — which has a rabid fan following (my husband included). This leads to another movie and, over time, more struggles with drugs. Although he recently did a USO tour in Afghanistan (which he discusses in the book), my husband tells me he continues to struggle with his heroin addiction but somehow still manages to do the radio show each day.
You may be wondering why I read this book. Primarily, I read it because my husband is a huge Howard Stern and Artie Lange fan and preordered this book — something I have never seen him do before. (He is pretty much a non-reader — although I am trying very hard to change that.) In an effort to show interest in what my husband was excited about reading and to see what was so darn funny about Mr. Lange, I decided I would read this book to find out a little more about this guy.
I will admit, the first parts of the book — although lewd and crude — were not too bad. There is a section on how Mr. Lange lost his virginity (to a prostitute’s sister) that was actually quite amusing — if not a bit raunchy. And the way he writes about his father and their shared love of the Yankees was quite touching and gave me a bit of an insight into the male mind. And there are some stories about his parents and their love of Frankie Valli that were relatively enjoyable. But once the book shifted to his comedy career and subsequent drug addiction, I got less and less interested the more I read.
Frankly, I don’t think the book is that well-written, and Mr. Lange didn’t strike me as the amazingly funny storyteller he supposedly is. But, then again, I don’t think I am his target audience either. I found the sections on his drug problems to be very repetitive and unappetizing (as they rightfully should be). However, rather than draw me into his struggles, I just started to get a little bored and began checking to see how many pages were left. And, because there is no “moment of truth” where Mr. Lange is able to kick his drug problem, I wasn’t left with an uplifted feeling either. In fact, when he mentions that he plans to write another book, my immediate thought was “Well, I hope you live long enough to complete it.”
My Final Recommendation
I think this book is primarily for fans of Artie Lange and Stern Show fans. It might also be of minimal interest to readers who want to understand the mind of an addictive personality. However, I’m thinking there are better books on this topic, and I would hesitate to recommend it based on that. Bottom line: If you’re a Lange or Stern fan, you’ll probably like this book. Everyone else: take a pass.
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