Too Fat To Fish
Spiegel & Grau, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
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Reviewed by Elizabeth Schulenburg
rtie Lange has been making people smile almost since the day he was born. When he was just a few days old, his father was on trial for harboring counterfeit money. His parents were not bad people - they were working class, struggling to get by, and Artie's dad was a sucker for a get-rich-quick scheme. When he got involved with the wrong crowd, it caught up with him, and he was facing ten years in prison. His lawyer suggested bringing baby Artie to the trial might make the judge more sympathetic, and Artie performed like a pro - smiling and cooing, he charmed the judge, and his dad walked out of the courtroom a free man. No-one could have predicted that this was a sign of things to come.
rtie and his dad were best friends, and along with his mother and younger sister, formed a tight-knit family circle. When his father became paralyzed and eventually died after a fall from a ladder, Artie's life changed forever. Unable to deal with seeing his formerly strong, boisterous father lying in a hospital bed, and wracked wtih guilt over his inablilty to help his mother provide for the family, Artie turned to alcohol and drugs to numb his mind. He was unable to shake the feeling that he should have been with his father that day, and that if he had been there his father would still be alive. After several years of working as a longshoreman by day, and drowning his sorrows at night, he decided he wanted to pursue a career in comedy. With the full support of his mother and sister, he started on the comedy club circuit, and soon was cast on the first season of the sketch comedy series MADtv. But fame and fortune would not erase the guilt, and Artie was only beginning the downward spiral which would result in almost losing everything.
rtie Lange is funny - there is no doubt about that. He is at his best when he has a story to tell, and this book is a collection of the wild, strange, unbelievable stories that make up his life. From befriending Paul Anka on a family vacation, to pretending to rob a bank to impress his girlfriend, to being shot at in Afghanistan, Artie has lived a life that is fascinating on the page. His working class roots make him immediately identifiable, so as he rises to fame he could be the guy that lives next door who caught a lucky break. Even rich and famous, Artie is still beset by demons, but unlike many priviledged people doesn't blame his problems on anyone but himself.
ange's editor obviously made the decision not to clean up the writing, so occasionaly there are some problems with grammer and vocabulary. But it allows the reader to feel like Artie is sitting next to them, telling his stories, so I think the decision was a good one. Lange's humor is often crude and coarse, and
Too Fat to Fish
is no different - readers who are uncomfortable with profanity and sexual references will not enjoy this book. If, however, a reader is looking for a chronicle of a fascinating life written by one of the hottest stars in comedy, they will not be disappointed.
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