Even This I Get to Experience Info

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“Flat out, one of the best Hollywood memoirs ever
written . . . an absolute treasure.” —Booklist
(starred review)

 
In my ninety-plus years
I’ve lived a multitude of lives. In the course of all these lives,
I had a front-row seat at the birth of television; wrote, produced,
created, or developed more than a hundred shows; had nine on the air at
the same time; founded the 300,000-member liberal advocacy group People
For the American Way; was labeled the “no. 1 enemy of the American
family” by Jerry Falwell; made it onto Richard Nixon’s
“Enemies List”; was presented with the National Medal of
Arts by President Clinton; purchased an original copy of the Declaration
of Independence and toured it for ten years in all fifty states; blew a
fortune in a series of bad investments in failing businesses; and
reached a point where I was informed we might even have to sell our
home. Having heard that we’d fallen into such dire straits, my
son-in-law phoned me and asked how I was feeling. My answer was,
“Terrible, of course,” but then I added, “But I must
be crazy, because despite all that’s happened, I keep hearing this
inner voice saying, ‘Even 
this I get to
experience.’”

Norman Lear’s work is
legendary. The renowned creator of such iconic television programs
as All in the Family; Maude; Good Times;
The Jeffersons
; and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,
Lear remade our television culture from the ground up. At their peak,
his programs were viewed by 120 million people a week, with stories that
dealt with the most serious issues of the day—racism, poverty,
abortion—yet still left audiences howling with laughter. In
Even This I Get to Experience, Lear opens up with all the
candor, humor, and wisdom to be expected from one of America’s
greatest living storytellers.
But TV and politics are only a
fraction of the tale. Lear’s early years were grounded in the
harshness of the Great Depression and further complicated by his
parents’ vivid personalities. The imprisonment of Lear’s
father, a believer in the get-rich-quick scheme, colored his son’s
childhood. During this absence, Lear’s mother left her son to
live with relatives. Lear’s comic gifts were put to good use
during this hard time, as they would be decades later during World War
II, when Lear produced and staged a variety show for his fellow airmen
in addition to flying fifty bombing missions.
After the war, Lear
tried his hand at publicity in New York before setting out for Los
Angeles in 1949. A lucky break had a powerful agent in the audience the
night Danny Thomas performed a nightclub routine written by Lear, and
within days his career in television began. Before long, his work with
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (and later Martha Raye and George Gobel)
made him the highest-paid comedy writer in the country, and he was
spending his summers with the likes of Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks.
Movies followed, and soon he was making films starring Frank Sinatra,
Dick Van Dyke, and Jason Robards. Then came the ’70s and
Lear’s unprecedented string of TV hits.
Married three times
and the father of six children ranging in age from nineteen to
sixty-eight, Lear’s penetrating look at family life, parenthood,
and marriage is a volume in itself. A memoir as touching, funny, and
remarkable as any of Lear’s countless artistic creations, Even
This I Get to Experience is nothing less than a profound
gift, endlessly readable and characteristically unforgettable.

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Reviews for Even This I Get to Experience:

4

Jan 09, 2017

I go to sleep each night anticipating and delighting in the great taste of the coffee I will be drinking the next morning - something I have done almost thirty thousand times.

I think the most important thing in predicting whether you will enjoy this book is your expectations going in.

The cover says NORMAN LEAR and then in smaller letters, "The creator of iconic television programs including All in the Family, Maude, Good Times, The Jeffersons, and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman."

Now. If you expect I go to sleep each night anticipating and delighting in the great taste of the coffee I will be drinking the next morning - something I have done almost thirty thousand times.

I think the most important thing in predicting whether you will enjoy this book is your expectations going in.

The cover says NORMAN LEAR and then in smaller letters, "The creator of iconic television programs including All in the Family, Maude, Good Times, The Jeffersons, and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman."

Now. If you expect this to be a tell-all or a gossipy book about the shows, the actors on the shows, and what went on behind the scenes of these shows: YOU WILL BE VERY DISAPPOINTED. Lear doesn't even mention his TV shows until about halfway through the book. When he does, his MAIN POINTS will be about how he fought the networks and the censors. There will be next to nothing about the actors or the relationships between people on the set.

The book is actually about Norman Lear and his life. It's about Norman Lear growing up Jewish in the 1920s and 1930s, about him serving in WWII, about his wives, his children, his political activism and his wealth. If these things don't interest you, you will not enjoy this book.


Norman's complicated relationship with both his parents is a highlight of the book. It is fascinating from a psychological standpoint. Lear's father was a fraud and a con-artist of sorts, who once was in prison for three years. Lear loves his father, but tells again and again heartbreaking stories of his father making false promises, letting Lear and Lear's family down, and trying to scam people out of money.

Mother was a world-class narcissist... It didn't occur to us that a mother might take an interest in her children... A true farbissiner is a sour soul. Sour souls stain the company they keep. They wake up to piss on the day and not just their day. A farbissiner doesn't earn the title until she is pissing on your day, too.

Lear's mother is truly a piece of work and she at times makes the reader laugh (for example, when she is riding in a plane with Lear and needs eyedrops), and at times makes the reader very angry and frustrated with her. Lear is constantly striving for her approval and no matter what he does, it seems he can't impress her, even though he becomes very rich and successful. This is a never-ending source of pain for him, and it's interesting to track this from his birth to his mother's death when he is old. Think about the mother in the children's film Despicable Me and you'll get the idea.

Lear's sister, Claire, is conspicuously absent from the book, barring a two or three page section near the end. They just aren't close and are very opposite of each other. Lear looks down on and condescends to his sister and her life choices.


Probably the most interesting part of the book for me was hearing about how being a Jew affected Lear and influenced his life. Even though he and his family weren't religious, their Jewishness defined so much of Lear's motive and self-awareness.

Your heart will break when little nine-year-old Lear first gets his taste of anti-Semitism when he accidentally tunes into a hate-preacher on his homemade crystal radio.

It was being Jewish that drove Lear to enlist in the Air Force.

It was the same part of me that in 1942 needed not just to enlist but to see action. Imagining the war coming up conversationally later in life, I simply HAD to have served and seen serious action in it. Would I have felt this special need had I not been Jewish?

Against his parents' wishes, he enlists, after which his mother takes to bed in a vengeful peak.

Throughout the whole book he has an inferiority complex every time he meets someone who (in his mind) meets the quintessential American ideal.

Millburn McCarthy Jr. Holy shit! Talk about your stirring, rock-ribbed American names. This was a name that suggested real class and power, and a family history that didn't begin with a thousand miles of shtetl. Such thoughts occurred to me then, and do to this day, because that kid poking around on his crystal set, spooked by a Jew hater, still lives in me. In 1982, for example, at age sixty, I walked into the office of Andrew Heiskell, the longtime chairman and CEO of TIME magazine, six feet four, crisp, iron-jawed, gorgeous, and quintessentially Gentile. I was there to tell him about People For the American Way and ask if he would care to join the newly formed board, but the subtext in my mind throughout our meeting was "This is the tallest, most spectacular goy I have ever seen." Andrew, a Republican, by the way, until his death in 2003, was one of our strongest board members and a great friend, but - and I said this in my eulogy for him - the Jewish kid in me never spent a minute with Andrew Heiskell when he wasn't conscious of feeling special, "chosen," if you will, to be close to this man.

He also describes harrowing incidents such as the one when, after he's rich and using his money to promote freedom of speech, a Jewish hate group run by a rabbi kills a pig, throws it over his fence, and scrawls, in pig blood, on his house, "JEW HATER - NAZI SYMPATHIZER."

This solidifies his conviction that all people are the same and equally capable of evil or good, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion.

I loved hearing about his childhood, his time serving in the Air Force, and his struggle to 'make it' and be a success.


Lear also examines his relationships with women. His first wife was a real mistake - a young marriage based on nothing more than a mutual excitement. I don't feel she was a bad person, but she and Lear were not suited for each other and his attempt to extract himself from the situation is long and difficult. He's smart and funny, though - at one point he pays his wife to work, matching her dollar-for-dollar for every one she earns. This is to get her out of the house to meet men, as she won't leave the house and is sitting pretty on an extensive and large income he is providing. After his daughter informs him that mommy isn't ever going to meet a man and get remarried (which would be the requirement for him to stop paying alimony and support), he invents this incentive to get her socially involved again. Funny and effective.

His second wife is one he is married to for about thirty years, but she has her own problems, mainly bipolar disorder, which leads to suicide attempts and other marital problems.

And his third wife is about thirty years his junior - Lear and her father both served in the Air Force together in WWII. But they seem happy and the book ends on a positive note, Lear even fathers three children with her - the first one appearing after he's in his 70s.


Another topic that gets covered extensively in the book is Lear's political viewpoint and his feelings about all the presidents who have served in his lifetime. He really likes Reagan, Eisenhower, Clinton, and Ford.

He talks a lot about the Constitution and his strong feelings about it - even purchasing an original print of it and having it tour the country when he's rich. He works hard to promote voting and trying to get people to register to vote in the USA. Most of his activism is political, pro-voting, and anti-censorship.


Lear fights the censors and the network hard and goes to battle often to get his ideas on television without editing. His disgust with corporate values and placing the bottom line above all else is palpable.

He rails against the religious right and fights hard for the separation of church and state.

It's also interesting to hear his take on smoking - something that went from pervasive, acceptable and unavoidable to distasteful and forbidden.


The richer and richer Lear got, the less and less interest I had in him. By about 3/4s of the way through the book, I was bored. At this point it had mainly devolved into name-dropping. I'm not interested in rich people, and compared to the parts of the book where he was struggling to make a name for himself, fighting in the war, and trying to understand his place in the world - the parts where he just talks about going on safari and dropping millions of dollars on a new show or a new charity or a purchase of the Declaration of Independence just leaves me cold.

Hearing about his struggles and journey is interesting, reading about the very lavish lifestyle to which he and his children have grown accustomed interests me not at all.

When he first starts to become very wealthy, it's interesting to see him questioning it and his values and what kind of person he's turning into, but this kind of introspection quickly falls to the wayside.



One more thing. I would be remiss if I didn't mention... or warn... people about the rather weird sexual content of this book. Lear does not shy away from discussing sex and often the sex he discusses is... um... not lovemaking.

For instance, he discusses his father shaming him for masturbating when he was about 9 or 10. He drags the dripping Lear from the bath and forces him to apologize to his mother while naked. He talks about his uncle teaching him to right way to pee, complete with a description of Uncle's penis. He talks about going to see a pony show with the GIs in Mexico. His discussion of women sometimes veered on the obscene.

Now, I don't feel like Lear is a creeper or anything... but be prepared for anything. Him walking in to see a naked Jerry Lewis on his couch, a lit birthday candle on his penis... or the time he was getting really excited to cheat on his wife with a groupie, only to have her ended up sobbing about how much she wants to blow Jerry Lewis in the other room.... these stories are (IMO) distasteful and unnecessary. I understand they are a part of his life, but they are a part of his life I didn't particularly want to know about.

It's only about 76% through the book where he curbs himself - saying

I've asked myself whether "opening up" on these pages demands that I say more about our lovemaking and concluded that it doesn't.

THANK YOU. LOL To be fair, he doesn't describe any of his wives' behavior in the bedroom, although we do get little tidbits like

The sight of Lyn in the gauzy late-morning light, hovering over the stove with one thing in mind - to delight me, and me alone.

Which, you know, gag. >.<

Here's an example of what I think is a disgusting assessment of a sexual encounter with a woman that could have been summarized in a more polite and brief way:

One of the USO women had a daughter helping her, nineteen or so and delicious. She had never seen a troop train, and with my lower berth twinkling like a star in the corner of my mind, I offered to take her aboard for a peek. The entire stopover could not have been more than half an hour, but that was enough time, coffee and doughnuts aside, for that young woman to contribute to the war effort.

I just find his wording to be very disgusting here.

He also could have left out parts such as the part where he describes how his 30-years-younger wife is 'lovingly harvesting his sperm.' Blech. Or descriptions of himself at age 64 having sex while on Ecstasy.



Which leads me to my next point: Lear may be a great television writer and a great comedy writer, but as an author, he leaves something to be desired.

His writing is competent, but far from beautiful. He doesn't describe things well. His biggest problem is stories that he either leaves unfinished, or that completely baffle the reader. At least a dozen times in this book I will read a passage - obviously a little vignette that has meaning to Lear - and be completely at a loss to what he is trying to say. Often these passages end with a little wink and nudge in the ribs from Lear and I'm like, "I don't even understand what you are trying to tell me! I know you're trying to tell me SOMETHING, but the whole meaning of this escapes me."

Other stories he leaves unfinished. For instance, he might start a story of how his grandfather accused his aunt-by-marriage of infidelity. He'll describe a rollicking scene and brawl. But he will have no resolution or follow-up to this. Often he will bring up something interesting and then never tell his readers what happened in the end.

Here's an example of bad writing:

Sometime after midnight on July 10, 1988, the world seemed to hold its breath and Lyn Lear, the first woman to ever give birth in that body, went into labor.

What.



Tl;dr -
Highlights: Lear's childhood and the very flawed parents he simultaneously loved and were disappointed in are fascinating. His Jewishness and how it affected his life is fascinating. His service in WWII and his fight against censorship and racism are interesting. Sometimes he has pretty funny stories to tell.

Lowlights: Kind of a weird sexual content that may be disturbing to some readers. Not sick, Lear's not a sicko, but just TMI and kind of disgusting descriptions of stuff.

As Lear becomes more and more rich and powerful, my interest in him waned. Once he reaches the point where he can pretty much buy anything, do anything, and fund anything, I didn't care anymore. There's nothing fascinating about rich people, IMO. I find them extremely boring. After he becomes the person to complain about only having one million dollars instead of fifty million dollars, I was done. Forget this shit. You've lost me.

I don't feel like he was name-dropping for fun and profit, but by the end of the book (perhaps because he was more of a figurehead and symbol by that point instead of an actual working person), he is basically just listing celebrities he pals around with. Which is fine. Boring, but fine.



I would recommend this, but only with the caveat that you must be interested in LEAR. Not his shows, HIM. This is about Lear's life - it is not about Archie Bunker or the cast of Good Times, nor is it any kind of exposé. You're warned. ...more
3

Mar 19, 2015

The only problem with this book is that Mr. Norman Lear treats the 1970s as if it were equivalent to any other decade in his life. I'm happy to learn about his childhood or his time in the army. I'm happy to learn about his marriages and divorces. I'm happy to learn about his earliest years in comedy or his latest years with his grandchildren.

But the only reason any reasonable person buys this book is to learn what it was like to create the half-dozen or so shows that changed American culture The only problem with this book is that Mr. Norman Lear treats the 1970s as if it were equivalent to any other decade in his life. I'm happy to learn about his childhood or his time in the army. I'm happy to learn about his marriages and divorces. I'm happy to learn about his earliest years in comedy or his latest years with his grandchildren.

But the only reason any reasonable person buys this book is to learn what it was like to create the half-dozen or so shows that changed American culture forever. Yet that accounts for, perhaps, one fifth of the book, if that. Some of his most important and influential television series apparently warrant just a few pages, in Norman Lear's opinion.

Don't get me wrong. This is the definitive biography of Norman Lear, and you will learn every detail of his life that you would care to know revealed in remarkable and enviable candor. But that is not why I bought this book, and that is not why you bought this book. You and I both wanted a behind-the-scenes account of All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Maude, and all the other amazing, groundbreaking shows that Norman Lear "developed" (a credit in all his shows that you don't see so often nowadays).

Nevertheless, Norman Lear's life story is entertaining and well-written. Maybe, someday, he will write the book that we really want to read, which discusses only his time developing some of the greatest shows in the history of television. ...more
5

Sep 09, 2014

To quote J.J. from "Good Times," this book is dy-no-MITE!

"Good Times" is, of course, just one of the many ground-breaking TV shows masterminded by Norman Lear, and if this book were about nothing more than the TV shows he created, it would be well worth reading. I mean, the inside scoop behind the shows, and the behind-the-scenes struggles with the networks, censors, and various actors... fascinating stuff, right? But nope. 'Fraid not. That isn't the only thing this book is about. It's about a To quote J.J. from "Good Times," this book is dy-no-MITE!

"Good Times" is, of course, just one of the many ground-breaking TV shows masterminded by Norman Lear, and if this book were about nothing more than the TV shows he created, it would be well worth reading. I mean, the inside scoop behind the shows, and the behind-the-scenes struggles with the networks, censors, and various actors... fascinating stuff, right? But nope. 'Fraid not. That isn't the only thing this book is about. It's about a whole lot more.

This is the candid story of a remarkable life, warts, blessings, and all. Now in his nineties, Lear takes an honest look back at the hills and valleys of his life, and shares stories both heart-warming, as well as heart-breaking. He includes lots of anecdotes about actors, actresses, and politicians, including never-before-told stories about people like Frank Sinatra... wonderful stories! He shares insights about himself, his love-hate relationship with his father, his exasperating mother, his search for truth, love for his country, his experiences in WWII, and his aversion to bigotry and injustice. This is a man who actively embraces life, and is never content to rest on his laurels, because there's always... the Next Thing to look forward to, and another project to tackle.

Some memoirs come across as self-indulgent. Not this one. At times, Lear seems almost semi-detached and bemused at some of the experiences he's had, and the people he's known, and as this master storyteller shares his tales with us, it's as though he's getting a little self-therapy in the process. I'm absolutely delighted he decided to share some of them with us through the pages of this book, and hope he has a lot more Next Things to look forward to.

One of the BEST books I've won through a Goodreads giveaway. I highly recommend it. ...more
4

Nov 12, 2015

What's not to like about Norman Lear? He enlisted in and fought in World War II, risking his life on bombing missions to defeat the Nazis. He started out with no money, but as an entrepreneur, he got rich through hard work, determination, charisma, intelligence and good luck. He used his money to found People for the American Way and to buy a copy of the Declaration of Independence, touring the country to promote patriotism and American values. And of course, he has continually used the power of What's not to like about Norman Lear? He enlisted in and fought in World War II, risking his life on bombing missions to defeat the Nazis. He started out with no money, but as an entrepreneur, he got rich through hard work, determination, charisma, intelligence and good luck. He used his money to found People for the American Way and to buy a copy of the Declaration of Independence, touring the country to promote patriotism and American values. And of course, he has continually used the power of freedom of speech to promote American values with the social commentary reflected in All in the Family, the Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, Maude, One Day at Time, etc. (These are the shows I used to watch as a Generation X kid.)

I liked how Lear explains that Archie Bunker was in many ways like his own father, even though Lear's family was Jewish. Lear says that he thinks Maude's character said things that are most similar to his own personal beliefs.

The book describes Lear's relationships with his three wives and six children. I wanted to know more, but Lear does not reveal everything, presumably to protect his and their privacy. When he lived on opposite coasts from his first wife and it was expensive to make long distance calls, the operator connected him for free in exchange for being able to listen in on the calls. Once, he went on a mad search for his second wife and found her while she was trying to commit suicide and was able to call for help just in time.

Lear writes about how his mother was a narcissist and his father was an unsuccessful businessman who ended up in jail for various fraudulent activities. He's pretty clear that he loved his dad and wanted to achieve the dream that his dad was never able to achieve, but he didn't have a loving relationship with his mom. He talks about himself and his wives going to therapists and about how he thinks he has always been "disassociated" from his true feelings about things. He seems to believe in love and family and marriage despite his two divorces and his turbulent relationships with his first two wives. He seems like a person who has always done what he wanted to do in accordance with his own values, and he doesn't seem to have any reservations about marrying someone 25 years younger than himself and then having kids in his 70s.

I'm impressed by what a full life he has led. He seems to have a great ability to continually take risks and to just relentlessly pursue his own goals according to his own values in his professional and personal life despite opposition from others. ...more
5

Dec 23, 2014

One of the Best books written about the Television Business. On par with the Capra Book "The Name Above The Title" and the Chapin Autobiography.. He is the absolute "Word Master".. I so wanted more to read.
5

Aug 14, 2018

Now over the age of 90, the man who changed television forever reminisces about his painful childhood, his 3 marriages, his strong liberal political beliefs and activism, and the great films and TV shows he fought to write and produce in the face of powerful conservative TV standards. All in The Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, Happy Days had TV characters who spoke their minds, expressed their prejudices as well as their fears and ideals. We learned from them and, in the end, they made America a Now over the age of 90, the man who changed television forever reminisces about his painful childhood, his 3 marriages, his strong liberal political beliefs and activism, and the great films and TV shows he fought to write and produce in the face of powerful conservative TV standards. All in The Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, Happy Days had TV characters who spoke their minds, expressed their prejudices as well as their fears and ideals. We learned from them and, in the end, they made America a better, more honest place to be. A great book. ...more
5

Dec 08, 2016

This autobiography covers relationships, accomplishments, failures all part of a phenomenal lifespan. Lear is now in his nineties well known for writing, directing and producing across film and tv but what struck me was his insights not only about himself, but the American culture in general. So much of his commentary re. The seventies is relevant today. What a life, what a guy!
4

May 27, 2017

Norman Lear writes about his life and shows how even growing up in the poorest of circumstances that sometimes life gets better with hard work, ambition and talent. Not happy to just get rich, he has not left his life go by without impacting others by becoming a philanthropist and getting involved in political causes.
3

Nov 23, 2014

If you've been needing a reminder of what a titanic influence Norman Lear was on television, well, Mr. Lear is very happy to oblige. Actually, he's pretty humble for a man of his wealth and achievements, and the rags-to-television-riches portions of his life are funny and well-told.

Lear falters a little talking about his more recent years, since charities and business deals just aren't all that interesting. But the tales of the Golden Age of television -- and how it built the foundation for If you've been needing a reminder of what a titanic influence Norman Lear was on television, well, Mr. Lear is very happy to oblige. Actually, he's pretty humble for a man of his wealth and achievements, and the rags-to-television-riches portions of his life are funny and well-told.

Lear falters a little talking about his more recent years, since charities and business deals just aren't all that interesting. But the tales of the Golden Age of television -- and how it built the foundation for Lear's work in the seventies -- are more than worth the price of admission. ...more
3

Aug 01, 2014

I won this book in the Goodreads giveaway. I don't believe I've ever read an autobiography before so this was a new experience. I have enjoyed many of Norman Lear's TV shows and still watch "All in the Family" on MeTV.

The pace of the book was slow and how much money was being made or lost on his ventures seemed to be a significant point. It was interesting to hear about the celebrities that he has worked with and been friends with and how his TV shows were conceptualized and brought to life on I won this book in the Goodreads giveaway. I don't believe I've ever read an autobiography before so this was a new experience. I have enjoyed many of Norman Lear's TV shows and still watch "All in the Family" on MeTV.

The pace of the book was slow and how much money was being made or lost on his ventures seemed to be a significant point. It was interesting to hear about the celebrities that he has worked with and been friends with and how his TV shows were conceptualized and brought to life on the screen.

I even enjoyed hearing about his memories of his father, H.K. He sounds like he was a real character.

I understand writing about his family is important to the story, however, his arguments and fights with his wife, Frances, were a little excessive. I did enjoy reading about his children and how they turned out.

The book didn't "flow" too well for me but I'm glad I read it and received an insight on the "Hollywood scene" and all that that entails. ...more
4

Nov 18, 2014


EVEN THIS I GET TO EXPERIENCE by Norman Lear may be classified as an autobiography, but it is a love story.
It is a love story about a man and his calling to following his chosen profession.
It is a love story about a man who loves humankind, his country, his family and his god.
It is a love story about a man who shares his wealth of money and creative ability to champion what he believes in.
It is a love story about how God blesses those who do His work and what some call luck and others know are
EVEN THIS I GET TO EXPERIENCE by Norman Lear may be classified as an autobiography, but it is a love story.
It is a love story about a man and his calling to following his chosen profession.
It is a love story about a man who loves humankind, his country, his family and his god.
It is a love story about a man who shares his wealth of money and creative ability to champion what he believes in.
It is a love story about how God blesses those who do His work and what some call luck and others know are blessings.
It is a love story about a man who follows his convictions.
In the end, it just may be a love story about how much God loves us to have given us Norman Lear to influence our lives and make us the America we are today.

No, Norman Lear is not perfect, but he shows us so many decades of this last century, names names, shows appreciation to those he met. I learned a lot reading the weft thread of his book, but the warp threads of his life are pure love.
...more
2

Dec 30, 2014

Unlike many of the reviewers I didn't get a free copy from Goodreads nor did I know who Norman Lear was when I started this book. I also had not seen a single clip of any of his TV shows, (but it did prompt me to dig up some clips off of Youtube for context). So, I was left to judge it based on its merits and the mammoth amount of history he captured--almost a century's worth since the man keeps truckin' after 90+ years! So, it's hard for me to read it as anything but the legacy of yet another Unlike many of the reviewers I didn't get a free copy from Goodreads nor did I know who Norman Lear was when I started this book. I also had not seen a single clip of any of his TV shows, (but it did prompt me to dig up some clips off of Youtube for context). So, I was left to judge it based on its merits and the mammoth amount of history he captured--almost a century's worth since the man keeps truckin' after 90+ years! So, it's hard for me to read it as anything but the legacy of yet another wealthy, powerful, white man. It helps that he acknowledges the power of luck with his fortune and success--but I didn't feel like he came across very humble or demure. There is quite a lot of name dropping, hand wringing,and retelling of epic board meetings, lunch meetings, or phone conversations. I was more interested in his retelling of stories that definitely mark the pretty gross parts of the past: (ie) his great ease with calling his girlfriend's psychiatrist for the full run down on her mental health (poor, but she does end up being his 2nd wife). I found his early life much more interesting--probably because I like reading about those parts of American history dealing with the Depression and WW2. The later part of his life becomes much more extravagant, long winded, and quite frankly, exhausting to read; I had to take many breaks from this book. ...more
5

Feb 04, 2015

I raved about this book on Facebook, so why rewrite? Here's what I said, in addition to having posted one other quote I loved from the book in a further comment:

Besides having led quite an interesting and creative 90+ year life (so far), Norman Lear imparts quite a bit of wisdom to readers of his memoir, both what he's learned on his own and what he's picked up from others. And being a Baby Boomer, I loved the stories about how he tried to impart his wisdom thru his creative work in some of my I raved about this book on Facebook, so why rewrite? Here's what I said, in addition to having posted one other quote I loved from the book in a further comment:

Besides having led quite an interesting and creative 90+ year life (so far), Norman Lear imparts quite a bit of wisdom to readers of his memoir, both what he's learned on his own and what he's picked up from others. And being a Baby Boomer, I loved the stories about how he tried to impart his wisdom thru his creative work in some of my all-time favorite t.v.shows, including "All in the Family," "The Jeffersons" and "Maude." But here's a quote I underlined in the book, something an audience member said to him after he'd given a speech. Lear had told the story of his sister Claire's 50th wedding anniversary party, at which she had negatively compared her own small influence in the world vs her famous brother's. The audience member's words were more succinct than Lear's had been (more "exquisitely [expressesd]" as he puts it), and I think it's a great balanced way in which to view ourselves: From EVEN THIS I GET TO EXPERIENCE by Norman Lear: "In a speech some time after Claire's fiftieth I expressed the same idea and a rabbi came up to me afterward to share his Talmud-style version of what I was attempting to convey: 'A man should have a garment with two pockets,' he said. 'In the first pocket should be a piece of paper on which is written, 'I am but dust and ashes.' In the second pocket should be a piece of paper on which is written, 'For me the world was created.''"

Beyond my FB comments:
I loved this book. I love what this man has given the world. He has made it a little better place (despite what we might think otherwise, as we listen to the news and hear of horrific events). He gives us laughter, which lightens our lives, behind which there is often deep wisdom and at its best gives us hope. He doesn't pretend to be a perfect person (no such thing), but he is always listening, reaching, trying to make a difference. ...more
4

Feb 25, 2015

Norman Lear is a force of nature. He had a crappy childhood which is a gift to an artistic person. Throughout his life, he's been creative, innovative, driven, and - he freely admits - lucky.

I enjoyed, in the first part of the book, reading about the weirdness of his family, and his feelings at the time. He was tenacious and funny in overcoming many obstacles to follow his dreams. I was rooting for that engaging kid.

However, after he became hugely successful, it was more a chronology of his Norman Lear is a force of nature. He had a crappy childhood which is a gift to an artistic person. Throughout his life, he's been creative, innovative, driven, and - he freely admits - lucky.

I enjoyed, in the first part of the book, reading about the weirdness of his family, and his feelings at the time. He was tenacious and funny in overcoming many obstacles to follow his dreams. I was rooting for that engaging kid.

However, after he became hugely successful, it was more a chronology of his continuing successes. He wrote this script, hired these people, bonded with those people, etc. What made this somewhat placid section interesting was his revelations about the personalities of the actors and famous people he worked with, like Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis, Carroll O'Connor, Bea Arthur, and Jean Stapleton.

One of the most interesting parts, was about All in the Family, and Lear's other creations of the time; it was groundbreaking TV and there were so many obstacles. Getting past the purity police, for example; or the way some of the actors began to drink their own Kool-Aid and take on a mission within their fictional role, making it harder to get them to play their parts.

I was disappointed that Lear wasn't highly introspective, or at least he didn't reveal it enough for me. He says, toward the end of the book, that he lacked emotional intelligence, but even then, he didn't go much of anywhere with it. One reason I bought the book - hardcover, yet! - was to learn what a brilliant 92-year-old might have to say about growing older.

Although Norman Lear wasn't sufficiently articulate on this point, everything about this book is inspiring. He makes mistakes and learns from them. He's self-deprecating if unreconstructed. He's tears-rolling-down-the-face patriotic. And by finding another gear at 70, he demonstrates the power of not letting oneself be defined by external forces.

So, ultimately, I was able to take away from my reading two things: an enjoyable read and a sense of empowerment. Well worth my money and time. Norman Lear is an American treasure, and I'm glad he took the time to write this book. ...more
0

Aug 28, 2014

In his tenth decade of life, it is easy to say that Norman Lear has achieved the Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times. Not only has the fabled writer/producer/political activist lived in interesting times, he has lived a gold-dusted life. From an upbringing in urban Connecticut, the son of a mother "who could suck pleasure out of any experience," and a father who went to prison for kiting checks, it is almost unbelievable the heights to which Lear rose. He attributes a great deal of In his tenth decade of life, it is easy to say that Norman Lear has achieved the Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times. Not only has the fabled writer/producer/political activist lived in interesting times, he has lived a gold-dusted life. From an upbringing in urban Connecticut, the son of a mother "who could suck pleasure out of any experience," and a father who went to prison for kiting checks, it is almost unbelievable the heights to which Lear rose. He attributes a great deal of his success to luck but it is unavoidable to notice that there was a lot of hard work behind the luck. He has gained and lost fortunes, only to get them back. In the truest version of the American dream, this "little Jew from Hartford," went of to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom in the Clinton administration and own a copy of the Declaration of Independence which he unselfishly shared with people across the country.

Unlike most Hollywood memoirs, this is not exactly a tell-all. Most of the stories he tells about associates from Martin and Lewis, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Frank Sinatra, Ronald Reagan, Burt Lancaster, Maya Angelou and even Clarence Thomas, are told in a positive light. He even manages to find good things to say about Clarence Thomas while shaking his literary head at how an articulate and effusive man turns taciturn and puppet-like on the bench.

In fact, the only truly negative stories that Mr. Lear shares are of his two ex-wives, Charlotte and Frances. Both come out the worse for the tale in the stories of their respective marriages and blood-thirsty divorces. However, if one reads the story carefully, the reader has to meditate on the fact that Mr. Lear kept marrying the wrong women and that even his last wife, Lyn, complains of the same problem that the earlier two addressed; with Norman, it's all "me, me, me."

Overall, the writing in the book are interesting especially for those of us who remember the sturm and drung that surrounded shows like "All in the Family," "Maude," and the cult hit "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman." Ironically, measured against what shows up in prime time, these days, Lear's shows seem surprisingly tame if still politically relevant. When Lear talks politics, he tends to pontificate and, while his points are definitely well-taken, you can bore a reader who is really there for the Hollywood backstory.

By the way, a bit of AITF trivia: "Stifle" was a phrase used by Lear's n'er do well dad to shut up his constantly abrasive mother. In fact, Lear reveals that Archie Bunker was a bit of an homage to his father, Herman K. Lear, bunko artist and eternal seeker of the next-big-thing around the corner.

Be that as it may, with more than 90 years to his credit, Mr. Lear is entitled to whatever form his story takes and the greatest part of the book is worth the read. He states that he hopes to make it to 104 so that he can see his late-in-life children produce grandchildren. It must be like living with a talking history book to be a child or grandchild of this genuine member of the Greatest Generation. ...more
4

Aug 01, 2014

Most Hollywood biographies have several common components: 1. a bit of name dropping and name calling 2. a rise to stardom despite a difficult past and 3. loves won and lost (see number 1 also). To be honest, I wasn't sure what I was expecting when I read Norman Lear's new autobiography (or memoir? who makes the rules as to which is which?), but I did know those three components would be there in some form or fashion. And they were. That isn't a critique, but it is all in how they are presented. Most Hollywood biographies have several common components: 1. a bit of name dropping and name calling 2. a rise to stardom despite a difficult past and 3. loves won and lost (see number 1 also). To be honest, I wasn't sure what I was expecting when I read Norman Lear's new autobiography (or memoir? who makes the rules as to which is which?), but I did know those three components would be there in some form or fashion. And they were. That isn't a critique, but it is all in how they are presented. Norman Lear, the famous writer, director and producer, presents them fairly honestly and is forthcoming about himself and his own flaws, talents and beliefs. That's refreshing and different. I find that comedians or people who write comedy tend to be more open and honest about there lives; particularly their past and families. Maybe it's because for them it provides so much of their material and is such a larger part of who they are, whether they embrace it or not. Lear's book, Even This I Get To Experience, has all of those components, but is not the usual Hollywood bio.

Famous to millions as the creator and producer of a successful run of sitcoms in the 70s and 80s, Lear's career had so much more before and after that is less known. Lear served in World War II in the Air Force as a radio operator/gunner on Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers with the 772nd Bombardment Squadron and flew over 50 missions. He is very much a patriotic American who views the First Amendment and the Founding documents as sacrosanct. He is more on the left wing side of politics, and is outspoken in that arena, and depending upon the reader it will either irritate or engage you in those sections of the book. Either way, Lear definitely loved his country and the American people and that shines throughout his book.

After the war, Lear was a comedy writer and worked with such legends as Frank Sinatra, Henry Fonda Dick Van Dyke, Danny Thomas, Martha Raye and worked on some of the variety and comedy shows of the 50s and 60s. Lear also wrote and produced such cult favorite comedies as The Night They Raided Minsky's and Cold Turkey. Then came the classic which started his incredible run of TV shows: All in the Family.

Most probably are hoping to find more of a behind the scenes look at this period of his career, which includes shows like AITF, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Sanford and Son and One Day at a Time. He certainly doesn't disappoint and he chronicles not the creative process that went into the shows, but the battles with censors, network execs and even difficulties with actors. Some of the stories are well known, but you get more of the warmth and immediacy from Lear's telling and the personal investment. These shows are famous for pushing the boundaries of not just comedy, but television in general, and even in dealing with controversial topics, the character's humanity and the relationships are still what mattered most.
Lear continues to touch upon his production companies and career through the 2000s which produced more television shows and movies, and helped to kick start Rob Reiner's career by producing his first film, This is Spinal Tap and later films such as Stand By Me and The Princess Bride.

Politics are a part of his story as well, although it features more prominently in the latter half of the book. This is where the story gets a bit more bogged down and you find yourself skimming pages rather than pouring over them. For me, the most intriguing aspect of his story centers on his family. His several marriages and children are discussed and presented as one might expect, but it's his relationship to his parents that is most interesting. It is clear that he loves his mostly indifferent mother and his difficult father, but the relationship as a child and into adulthood is not without tension and strife. As a child he went from relative to relative as his father was in jail and mother and sister lived on their own. Once his father was released from jail, it wasn't the joyous reunion he hoped for. His father was a con man, a stylish man, and a difficult one to love. This complicated relationship provides so much insight into the creation of some of Lear's paternal characters, and especially the relationship between Archie and Mike from All in the Family, that it's almost as if things sort of click into place as you read.

A well written look at his life, and an honest approach to his own family and relationships and his fictional families, make Even This I Get to Experience a worthwhile read. Most looking for insight or background stories on Lear's storied television career will be satisfied, but perhaps not as drawn in by the later third of the book. Considering Mr. Lear's contribution to American entertainment, this is a good look into his career and thoughts as an entertainer and a unique American. 4 stars.

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader's Copy from the publisher through Goodreads.com. ...more
4

Mar 13, 2015

What a great book and life story! I did not know Norman Lear was Jewish, but I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. What a loving lovable person he seems to be! All six of his kids with a 48 year spread, seem to love him too. Oh, he clearly could be tough. He recounts a few of those instances. But it was fascinating history. It was fascinating to hear what kind of a person Carroll O'Connor was (difficult, in case you're wondering). Lear's parents were around the age of my maternal What a great book and life story! I did not know Norman Lear was Jewish, but I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. What a loving lovable person he seems to be! All six of his kids with a 48 year spread, seem to love him too. Oh, he clearly could be tough. He recounts a few of those instances. But it was fascinating history. It was fascinating to hear what kind of a person Carroll O'Connor was (difficult, in case you're wondering). Lear's parents were around the age of my maternal grandmother I suspect. Some of what Lear wasn't happy about them I suspect was generational. However, Lear's parents seem to have been particularly nasty. His father was well, to put it bluntly, a criminal. His mother was the sort of self centered woman that should have never been near a child. I started to say could have been part of the Great Gatsby crowd, but it has been too long since I read that book to be sure my comment was accurate. Norman himself admits he tends to be a rather remote self centered person especially to those he loves. On the other hand, his kids seem to all adore him. Of course, he picked the photos, so who knows? But his oldest daughter chose to live with him and his second wife once she was 14. They all seem to be in touch with him, even though even the youngest are at least in their 20s. Obviously Lear was exceptionally talented. At one time he had 5 TV shows in the top 10 rated shows at one time. All in the Family, and four others. Of course he had failures and he talks about those as well, but of course, not as much as his successes. After most of us think about retiring, he basically started a second career as activist. Although he was very liberal, especially for times right now, he was quite willing to work with conservatives. He started People for the American Way, which I hadn't known. He tells a great story about how he managed to outbid everyone else to get an original copy (ok, almost original, I guess you could say the second printing!) of the Declaration of Independence and how he carried out a mission to carry and show the manuscript to a huge number of Americans by bringing it to them, rather than waiting for them to have money to go see it.

This story is as warm and vibrant as any of his shows and was a joy to read. Highly recommended to those who remember the 70s and 80s or who should learn a lot about that era! It loses a star mostly because I don't have a burning urge to reread it RIGHT NOW. Although I did leaf back and reread a few sections. I'd call it closer to a 4.5 really. I might come back and round up to 5 stars. ...more
4

Aug 31, 2016

This Audio Book Educates and Entertains

Until I heard the audio version of EVEN THIS I GET TO EXPERIENCE, I knew the name Norman Lear but very little detail about his life and career. From hearing this memoir, I heard his insights from his youth through his current life and how Lear became one of the most creative people in Hollywood.

The three years in his childhood when his father, Herman K. Lear went to prison had a big impact on his life when Lear had to live with relatives. His mother, This Audio Book Educates and Entertains

Until I heard the audio version of EVEN THIS I GET TO EXPERIENCE, I knew the name Norman Lear but very little detail about his life and career. From hearing this memoir, I heard his insights from his youth through his current life and how Lear became one of the most creative people in Hollywood.

The three years in his childhood when his father, Herman K. Lear went to prison had a big impact on his life when Lear had to live with relatives. His mother, Jeanette, and his sister lived some other place. Through stories, readers learn Lear’s father was full of big dreams and plans yet few of them came into fruition.

After his time of service during the second World War, Lear teamed up with Eddie Simmons. Simmon and Lear became one of the hottest writing teams in Hollywood writing for Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin for several years and the Martha Raye Show.

While Lear’s book is filled with fascinating “behind the scenes” stories of film and television, Lear created, produced and directed some of the best known television series. To this listener, some of the best stories in EVEN THIS I GET TO EXPERIENCE are tied to his well-known television program, All in the Family. I learned about the over two year journey to bring this show to television and the reluctance of Carrol O’Connor to play Archie Bunker.

The courage and persistence of Lear to stick with his instincts and fight the actors who wanted to change his script and the studio were enlightening of what it took to bring such ground-breaking television to the American public. All in the Family started slowly in the ratings and audience area. Then Johnny Carson, hosting the Emmys that year, suggested the Emmys open with an All in the Family skit, which elevated the profile of this show to the Hollywood community. The show went nine seasons on CBS. I enjoyed each of these stories from Lear’s insider perspective.

The book is packed with stories of his family life, his career and his active political life. What made the deepest impression on me as I heard the book cover to cover was the creativity and continued energy Lear put into his storytelling. The entire book held my attention cover to cover and I recommend it. ...more
3

Sep 05, 2014

Since my copy was an advanced uncorrected copy via goodreads first read, it is somewhat difficult to review this book when the final copy isn't done, but I will try my best.
The first half of the book was informative in the life of a person I only knew of as the writer for the television shows "Maude," "All in the Family," "The Jefferson's," "Good Times," and "Sanford and Son." I did not know that some of these shows were originally British in their ideas. The comments about who the author Since my copy was an advanced uncorrected copy via goodreads first read, it is somewhat difficult to review this book when the final copy isn't done, but I will try my best.
The first half of the book was informative in the life of a person I only knew of as the writer for the television shows "Maude," "All in the Family," "The Jefferson's," "Good Times," and "Sanford and Son." I did not know that some of these shows were originally British in their ideas. The comments about who the author originally wanted cast as Archie Bunker, and his battles with the television censors are also worth reading. The stories about the struggles with the cast of "Good Times" was also worth reading and was informative.
Another early section in the book that was telling was Lear's stint in the service, along with his relationship with his father and mother, which at first reads as mean, but also has some funny comments made, especially from his mother when he finally gets success in television.
The last part of the book was a struggle to read, especially the last 60-80 pages, where Lear discusses his activeness in political and social issues. Who am I to tell a award winning author how to write a book on his life, but the political rants seemed to feel like I was reading a second book. As a reader I would rather have read more stories about his television days, but as mentioned earlier, it's his book to write, however the flow of the book seemed to stop. His comments about taking on TV preachers and the Conservative Right made the book turn into the typical Hollywood writer Liberal stance.
I suggest reading only the first two parts of the book and skip the last part if you are looking for information of Lear's writing and television career. If you want more about his life as a person, then read the last part. Regardless of my stance on the last part, Norman Lear is a unique person who has lived a full life. He definitely deserve to have his story told in a book.
...more
4

May 02, 2016

The title itself was enough to hook me, with the emphasis on the *This*. I heard Lear on a podcast relate the story about finding out from his accountant that his vast fortune had been cleaved by perhaps 80%, that he was in imminent and dire financial trouble (and this was well past his halcyon era of all those sitcoms on the air at once). In the face of this crisis his internal reaction was, 'Even *this* I get to experience.' In other words, life is a gift, and even the worst of calamities is The title itself was enough to hook me, with the emphasis on the *This*. I heard Lear on a podcast relate the story about finding out from his accountant that his vast fortune had been cleaved by perhaps 80%, that he was in imminent and dire financial trouble (and this was well past his halcyon era of all those sitcoms on the air at once). In the face of this crisis his internal reaction was, 'Even *this* I get to experience.' In other words, life is a gift, and even the worst of calamities is something to be cherished in its own way. Or as Mark Twain said, growing old isn't so bad when you consider the alternative.

Great reading for the first half, including the usually dreary grand-parental/parental/early-life recap you get in every biography. Then his experiences/exploits in the entertainment business (mostly television) is even better. Lear has an amazing resume, going back to writing for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in their live performance heyday. Following into the sitcom years (All In The Family, Maude, Good Times, The Jeffersons, One Day At A Time, Fernwood 2Nite, etc.), it's fantastic.

The narrative loses steam getting into his political/philanthropic endeavors, and his various name-dropping-esque stories of his lavish experiences. Even the accounts of big hit films he produced seemed lightly sketched, ultimately convincing me that producing (versus writing) was much less involving, and probably less-interesting, to him. I got the impression he was just working from notes to fill in those late chapter years.

But then the book picked up again, emotionally, with the ending of his marriage to Frances and subsequent union with Lynn. It seemed to me this era in his life fostered more deeply nuanced philosophical reflection. Including the realization of his lifelong dissociation, which had always taken the form of the concept, 'Even *This* I Get To Experience.'

As a final note, Lear is a very good writer. There is tremendous detail and sensitivity in his best passages (probably a good two-thirds of the book), which make it very rewarding to read. ...more
4

Oct 01, 2014

I thoroughly enjoyed this book (and I don't usually read memoirs- especially celebrity sorts). Mr. Lear has led an amazing life and seems to have limitless energy,ideas, and a real sense decency and fair play and of commitment to making things better. His stories about various entertainers are illuminating - often a single incident describes them better than many pages could (I am thinking about Milton Berle). One entertainer was described as a "loudmouth and vulgarian". I had forgotten how many I thoroughly enjoyed this book (and I don't usually read memoirs- especially celebrity sorts). Mr. Lear has led an amazing life and seems to have limitless energy,ideas, and a real sense decency and fair play and of commitment to making things better. His stories about various entertainers are illuminating - often a single incident describes them better than many pages could (I am thinking about Milton Berle). One entertainer was described as a "loudmouth and vulgarian". I had forgotten how many shows he had running at the same time and what uncomfortable & necessary subjects he broached and on which got the national conversation going. He was deeply affected by the broadcasts of Fr. Charles Coughlin. "Coughlin repulsed me thoroughly, but I listened to him enough and was so chilled by his polarizing and divisive rhetoric as to be reminded of him throughout my life whenever I've run into an irrational, self-serving mix of politics and religion. This was my introduction to the fact that there were people who disliked, mistrusted, even hated me because I was born a Jew." Sounds like some of the media and preacher sorts we are saddled with today, 70ish years later. Norman Lear is fiercely patriotic but thankfully not the empty, jingoistic baloney we've been so inundated with the last 15 yrs. He purchased an original copy of the Declaration of Independence and toured it around the country and was a founder of People For The American Way- he puts his money where his mouth is and I am awed by him. Not to mention that he flew 50+ missions in a B17. ...more
3

Aug 29, 2014

I am a huge fan of television and the entertainment industry in general, so hearing Mr. Lear's stories in how he helped shape early television and the integral part he played in so many popular shows was very interesting to me. The problem I had with this book was that Mr. Lear, now in his 90s, experienced much of his success long before I was born.
For a man of his age, Mr. Lear has an incredible memory, oftentimes relating exact conversations which makes for wonderful storytelling, in turn I am a huge fan of television and the entertainment industry in general, so hearing Mr. Lear's stories in how he helped shape early television and the integral part he played in so many popular shows was very interesting to me. The problem I had with this book was that Mr. Lear, now in his 90s, experienced much of his success long before I was born.
For a man of his age, Mr. Lear has an incredible memory, oftentimes relating exact conversations which makes for wonderful storytelling, in turn making for a great read even though I wasn't all that familiar with his subjects. I have never seen any of the TV shows he created, although I have heard of them. It would be nice to have some frame of reference so I could compare reality with what Mr. Lear presents as his reality, but if everything he says in this book is the way others interpret history, he is a remarkable man who along with a few partners and smart relationships along the way played a critical role in the entertainment industry and fighting battles to get things shown on TV that were quite revolutionary at the time.
I do appreciate the humble manner in which Mr. Lear tells his story. He is a very wealthy man whose creative mind and moral compass are uncompromised, and he has undoubtedly influenced the entertainment world and is now working on the political world.
I received this book through First Reads and probably wouldn't have read it otherwise. I'm very glad I got the opportunity because I did enjoy the book and I'm glad I got to learn about this man I really didn't know anything about previously. ...more
5

Jul 21, 2016

Amazing book! Wow. Just great.

First of all, I knew very little about the man other than the fact that he produced television like 'All In the Family.' So, I got to learn a lot about a man with a very dense career in the history of TV and movies. The journey alone was worth the read.

Secondly, he is either a fantastic writer, a genuinely good soul or both. I'm thinking both. He wasn't perfect, but he has faced a multitude of hardships and managed to come out of everyone of them with a positive Amazing book! Wow. Just great.

First of all, I knew very little about the man other than the fact that he produced television like 'All In the Family.' So, I got to learn a lot about a man with a very dense career in the history of TV and movies. The journey alone was worth the read.

Secondly, he is either a fantastic writer, a genuinely good soul or both. I'm thinking both. He wasn't perfect, but he has faced a multitude of hardships and managed to come out of everyone of them with a positive attitude. He is grateful for so much and he has accrued so much wisdom that pours from his words.

Thirdly, hearing him read his own very long audiobook felt to me like I was hanging out with a fascinating friend. He's got a warm and interesting voice. His comedic timing is subtle and directly on the money.

This book begins with a poor family in Connecticut and takes you through awkward attempts at finding love, WWII, parents who are pretty terrible in most ways, the struggles of being a nobody, the auspicious circumstances that got a young comedy writer noticed and keeps going. The book is very long, but I didn't think there was a single wasted word. I loved the whole thing.

And now I use the phrase 'Even this I get to experience' to help me through my more frustrating times. I am very thankful for that. ...more
3

Jan 04, 2015

Even This I Get to Experience, the biography of TV titan Norman Lear, is a lot like his career. The first two acts are terrific ... the third act not so much.
Lear is one of the most influential people in TV history. His TV breakthrough was All in the Family, which alone would be enough for most any TV creator. But Lear at his peak ruled network TV, with an unheard of nine shows on the air at one time in the 1970s, including Maude, Good Times, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Mary Hartman, Mary Even This I Get to Experience, the biography of TV titan Norman Lear, is a lot like his career. The first two acts are terrific ... the third act not so much.
Lear is one of the most influential people in TV history. His TV breakthrough was All in the Family, which alone would be enough for most any TV creator. But Lear at his peak ruled network TV, with an unheard of nine shows on the air at one time in the 1970s, including Maude, Good Times, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and Fernwood 2Night. They weren't all gems — hell, some of them were wretched, particularly by today's standards — but they defined the 1970s. Before his fame, he wrote or produced TV for the likes of Martin and Lewis and many other greats from TV's early days. A good two-thirds of Even This I Get to Experience is an enjoyable, showbiz bio kind of book, a genre for which I am a bit of a sucker. Bu the back third, where Lear's TV career is in decline and his progressive political activism takes over his life, the book gets, quite frankly, skipable. I would have liked a lot more on his TV career (he does spend a lot of time on Archie Bunker himself, Carroll O'Connor) and a lot less on his post-TV career. I suppose two-thirds good is not bad, but overall a bit of a missed opportunity. ...more
4

Jan 07, 2016

I enjoyed reading this autobiography. Lear has had a storied career, known many famous people, and accumulated lots of money, but he still managed to remain a principled, highly patriot man. I was intrigued to read how much struggling he had to do with TV censors, corporate VPs and CEOs, and even some of his actors to be able to present real-life issues: bigotry, homophobia, poverty, chauvinism, impotence, menopause, teenage sex . . . it's a long list. I can remember being surprised at an I enjoyed reading this autobiography. Lear has had a storied career, known many famous people, and accumulated lots of money, but he still managed to remain a principled, highly patriot man. I was intrigued to read how much struggling he had to do with TV censors, corporate VPs and CEOs, and even some of his actors to be able to present real-life issues: bigotry, homophobia, poverty, chauvinism, impotence, menopause, teenage sex . . . it's a long list. I can remember being surprised at an interracial couple on The Jeffersons, but not shocked, as the censors objected that the public would be. Nowadays, the scenes that Lear had to go to battle for are seen everyday in our TV commercials. I guess we should all say thank you to Mr. Lear for Viagra advertisements.

He speaks often about how he modeled Archie Bunker after his own father, but there are a couple of scenes in the book in which I hear Edith Bunker coming from the mouth of Lear's mother. When he called his mother to tell her that he had earned a prestigious award, maybe it was the Television Hall of Fame, her words were "Well, if that's what they want to do, who am I to say?" Another time Forbes magazine published Lear's name as one of the top ten richest men in America, and his mother called to see if he was upset about being so low on the list. Yo, Edith! ...more

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