cover image Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

Al Franken. Twelve, $28 (416p) ISBN 978-1-4555-4041-9

In this excellent, insightful memoir, comedian turned senator Franken recalls his unlikely path to public service. He was raised in a middle-class family in a Minneapolis suburb, tried to launch his comedy career while still an undergraduate at Harvard University, and found success when he landed a gig in 1975 as one of the original script writers on Saturday Night Live. He and his colleagues, some of them fueled by alcohol and drugs, indulged in late-night writing sessions that made the show’s sketches part of the cultural lexicon. The heart of this memoir is Franken’s decision to move back to Minnesota from New York City to run for the U.S. Senate against the Republican incumbent, Norm Coleman. Franken’s decision seemed rather quixotic at first, and the 2008 campaign was notable for GOP denunciations of Franken’s satirical writings as well as his wife’s public disclosure of her struggles with alcoholism. Coleman initially won by 725 votes, which triggered an automatic recount that gave Franken the victory by 312 votes. Due to repeated legal challenges from Coleman, however, Franken wasn’t seated until July 2009. Not surprisingly, Franken is quite a raconteur, and he tells the story of his remarkable life and times with a sense of humor that is always irreverent and often self-deprecating. One thing is no joke, however: he’s very serious about his job representing the people of Minnesota. (May)