This is a sad book. Pryor was lucky to have survived his childhood. He was never educated in a way that took advantage of his high intelligence. And he made the same mistakes (about substance abuse and relationships) over and over and over.
One of the most positive events in Pryor’s life was his trip to Kenya in 1979, instigated by a psychiatrist who wanted him to see Africa, “the origin of the world’s beauty”. He was bowled over by the people, the landscape, the wildlife.
“I left enlightened…I also left regretting ever having uttered the word ‘nigger’ on stage or off it. …Its connotations weren’t funny, even when people laughed. To this day I wish I’d never said the word…And so I vowed never to say it again.”
This change was misunderstood and rejected, to the extent that he became the target of death threats. Only a year later, Pryor set himself on fire in a grisly suicide attempt.
I recommend this book to those who study addiction, to anyone seeking insight about race in America and to people interested in comedy and comedians.