The Other Great Depression: How I'm Overcoming, on a Daily Basis, at Least a Million Addictions and Dysfunctions and Finding a Spiritual (Sometime

Richard Lewis, Author PublicAffairs $23 (288p) ISBN 978-1-891620-93-5
Fans of Lewis's bleak shtick are the natural audience for these searing, confessional riffs on the comic's angst, acute alcoholism and relentless sexual conquests, but it's hard to imagine that the uninitiated would enjoy the musings of ""a bad-postured, guilt-ridden ball of confusion with a trace of paranoia, self-loathing and a little faith thrown in for some taste."" Lewis attributes his misery to his parents: a sullen mother whose antipathy toward her son is not fully explored; his distant but admired father died young. The New Jersey boy found his escape route via jokes and isolation and, eventually, Ohio State University. Though he makes a sort of peace with his mother at the end of her life, the author reserves his moments of near-tenderness for members of comedy royalty: Buster Keaton's elegant widow, Eleanor, and Lenny Bruce's raucous mother, Sally Marr. (However, larger-than-life icon Jackie Gleason displays less-than-noble behavior to Lewis.) In his early 20s, Lewis found a mentor in the manager of a legendary Brooklyn comedy club. After the requisite struggles on the stand-up circuit, he made it big in many venues: HBO specials, a movie and a four-year stint in a TV series, Anything but Love. Bouts of debilitating drunkenness and the interventions of loyal friends led Lewis to the Hazelden clinic, though he dropped out in two days, opting to manage his own recovery. Though he now struggles to be monogamous with his current ""lady,"" Lewis's mostly cynical rants about desperate women and PMS won't win him any new female fans. Agent, David Vigliano. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/2001
Release date: 01/01/2001
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Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-452-28315-2
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