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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Summer Reading Log: The Dangerous Animals Club

I read the first half of Stephen Tobolowsky's Dangerous Animals Club in the waiting room of a Firestone store in Pelham, Alabama. We got there at 6:55 for a 7 am brake appointment and had the pleasure of staying until 9:45. Surrounded by Men's Men (too old to be Dudes), my spouse passed the time listening to my sometimes-nearly-uncontrollable laughter.

Stephen Tobolowsky is funny. You've seen him in things.

Dangerous Animals Club is full of funny. Life is funny. Hopefully, you laugh a lot at things that happen to you now, or you can at least look back and laugh at things that happened to you Back In The Day. Tobolowsky tells lovely stories from early childhood (he had a happy childhood in Texas, a loving family, and stable relationships, and STILL somehow manages to be funny). But he doesn't spare us the uglier side of his early days in Los Angeles, including drug use and accidentally speaking inappropriate Spanish in a children's theatre production.

Chronicled heavily is his relationship with playwright Beth Henley, which lasted for fourteen years. He also talks a lot about his wife Ann and their two sons. Something that piqued my curiosity is that he mentions the first time he married his wife. I didn't see any other details about that, but it was intriguing to me. Hopefully he'll write another memoir and talk about how he and Ann met.

Some moments caught me off guard with their emotional candor. I enjoy a funny book peppered with sweet and somber moments. It's so reflective of life, isn't it?

Perhaps the best thing about this book is that you do not have to read it in sequence. I'm glad I did, but the chapters are arranged in such a way that while the previous information may be useful, it's not necessary to get joy out of the story. My attention span is often so spotty that I need to keep more books like this on hand.

You'll get a picture of this wonderful character actor as a whole child, a clumsy but talented adult, loving partner/spouse/parent, and curious Jew. You'll get some neat little Hollywood stories that aren't sycophantic but instead inspiring.

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