Homer's Travels: Book: George Carlin's (With Tony Hendra) "Last Words"

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Book: George Carlin's (With Tony Hendra) "Last Words"

I really enjoyed the humor of George Carlin.  This encouraged me to read his memoir, "Last Words".

The book is a biography of Carlin from his early childhood to the early twenty-first century.  It is obviously filled with words that will not be shared in this post.  In a way that is part of Carlin's charm.  His language is mostly unfiltered.

The book was put together from conversations between Carlin and his friend Tony Hendra.  It is written in Carlin's voice throughout and includes excerpts from his acts through the years.  I found it very entertaining.

It is not a perfect book though.  The last two or three chapters feel unorganized and somewhat non-chronological compared to the rest of the book.  For example after talking about a 1999 HBO special he jumps back to 1997 to talk about the death of his first wife.  After saying she died he jumps to talking about his many heart attacks.  This transition was jarring.  I was expecting more about how he felt and reacted to the death of a woman he truly loved but there was nothing.  The same can be said about the page or two that talked about meeting his second wife.  This book, apparently, had been worked on over a few decades and, in fact, Carlin died before it was finished.  This may explain the issues with the last chapters.

It was Hendra who finished the book.  One thing that surprised me was the lack of a mention of how and when Carlin died.  I would have expected an epilogue talking about the last few years of his life and the story of his passing.  This would have tied up the book in a nice bow especially when you consider that the first chapter talks about him exiting the birth canal.

As I read this book I wondered what Carlin would have thought of all the crap that has happened since his death in 2008.  Those HBO specials would have been on fire.

Despite the shortcomings of the last chapters, I gave the book four stars out of five on Goodreads.  I enjoyed it enough not to hold the shortcomings of the last chapters against it.

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