Book review: 'Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him' by Joe Henry and David Henry

In Richard Pryor's electrifying standup routines, he provided an unflinching look at himself and the world around him. The same can be said of the comedian's biography.
by Hayley Riggs McGhee Published: December 28, 2013
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“Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him,” by Joe and David Henry (Algonquin Books, 297 pages, in stores).

In Richard Pryor's electrifying standup routines, he provided an unflinching look at himself and the world around him.

The groundbreaking comedian feared no topic — be it sex, drugs or race.

In telling Pryor's story, brothers Joe and David Henry take a similar approach.

“Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him” brings readers into Pryor's life and the world around him. That journey isn't for the faint of heart.

“Furious Cool” falls somewhere between a biography and a treatise on Pryor's cultural impact, and the Henrys have covered both topics solidly. The writers lay bare the ugliest parts of Pryor's life, from his childhood with a prostitute mother to his troubles with substance abuse and his battle with multiple sclerosis.

Because of Pryor's tendency to use stories from his life in his material, some of the book's stories will feel familiar to fans. But the Henrys provide excellent background and context, particularly on the life event Pryor is most remembered for: setting himself on fire while freebasing cocaine.

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by Hayley Riggs McGhee
Assistant Sports Editor
Assistant Sports Editor Hayley Riggs McGhee has worked for The Oklahoman since 2005. She previously worked as a page designer/copy editor for the (Fort Smith, Ark.) Times Record and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas. She is a Roland...
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