Robin

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From New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff, the definitive biography of Robin Williams – a compelling portrait of one of America’s most beloved and misunderstood entertainers.

From his rapid-fire stand-up comedy riffs to his breakout role in Mork & Mindy and his Academy Award-winning performance in Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams was a singularly innovative and beloved entertainer. He often came across as a man possessed, holding forth on culture and politics while mixing in personal revelations – all with mercurial, tongue-twisting intensity as he inhabited and shed one character after another with lightning speed.

But as Dave Itzkoff shows in this revelatory biography, Williams’s comic brilliance masked a deep well of conflicting emotions and self-doubt, which he drew upon in his comedy and in celebrated films like Dead Poets Society; Good Morning, Vietnam; The Fisher King; Aladdin; and Mrs. Doubtfire, where he showcased his limitless gift for improvisation to bring to life a wide range of characters. And in Good Will Hunting he gave an intense and controlled performance that revealed the true range of his talent.

Itzkoff also shows how Williams struggled mightily with addiction and depression – topics he discussed openly while performing and during interviews – and with a debilitating condition at the end of his life that affected him in ways his fans never knew. Drawing on more than a hundred original interviews with family, friends, and colleagues, as well as extensive archival research, Robin is a fresh and original look at a man whose work touched so many lives.

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About the author

Dave Itzkoff is the author of Mad as Hell, Cocaine’s Son, and Lads. He is a culture reporter at The New York Times, where he writes regularly about film, television, theater, music, and popular culture. He previously worked at Spin, Maxim, and Details, and his work has appeared in GQ, Vanity Fair, Wired, and other publications. He lives in New York City.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Henry Holt and Company
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Published on
May 15, 2018
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Pages
400
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ISBN
9781627794251
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Entertainment & Performing Arts
Performing Arts / Comedy
Performing Arts / Film / Genres / Comedy
Performing Arts / Television / Genres / Comedy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Hilarious and heartfelt observations on aging from one of America's favorite comedians as he turns 65, and a look back at a remarkable career in this New York Times bestseller.

Billy Crystal is turning 65, and he's not happy about it. With his trademark wit and heart, he outlines the absurdities and challenges that come with growing old, from insomnia to memory loss to leaving dinners with half your meal on your shirt. In humorous chapters like "Buying the Plot" and "Nodding Off," Crystal not only catalogues his physical gripes, but offers a road map to his 77 million fellow baby boomers who are arriving at this milestone age with him. He also looks back at the most powerful and memorable moments of his long and storied life, from entertaining his relatives as a kid in Long Beach, Long Island, his years doing stand-up in the Village, up through his legendary stint at Saturday Night Live, When Harry Met Sally, and his long run as host of the Academy Awards. Readers get a front-row seat to his one-day career with the New York Yankees (he was the first player to ever "test positive for Maalox"), his love affair with Sophia Loren, and his enduring friendships with several of his idols, including Mickey Mantle and Muhammad Ali. He lends a light touch to more serious topics like religion ("the aging friends I know have turned to the Holy Trinity: Advil, bourbon, and Prozac"), grandparenting, and, of course, dentistry. As wise and poignant as they are funny, Crystal's reflections are an unforgettable look at an extraordinary life well lived.

With sharp wit, self-deprecating humor, and penetrating honesty, New York Times journalist Dave Itzkoff turns a keen eye on his life with the mysterious, maddening, much-loved man of whom he writes, “for the first eight years of my life I seem to have believed he was the product of my imagination.”

Itzkoff’s father was the man who lumbered home at night and spent hours murmuring to his small son about his dreams and hopes for the boy’s future, and the fears and failures of his own past. He was the hard-nosed New York fur merchant with an unexpectedly emotional soul; a purveyor of well-worn anecdotes and bittersweet life lessons; a trusted ally in childhood revolts against motherly discipline and Hebrew school drudgery; a friend, advisor, and confidant. He was also a junkie. In Cocaine’s Son, Itzkoff chronicles his coming of age in the disjointed shadow of his father’s double life—struggling to reconcile his love for the garrulous protector and provider, and his loathing for the pitiful addict.

Through his adolescent and teen years Itzkoff is haunted by the spectacle of his father’s drug-fueled depressions and disappearances. In college, Itzkoff plunges into his own seemingly fated bout with substance abuse. And later, an emotional therapy session ends in the intense certainty that he will never overcome the same demons that have driven the older man. But when his father finally gets clean, a long “morning after” begins for them both. And on a road trip across the country and back into memory, in search of clues and revelations, together they discover that there may be more binding them than ever separated them.

Unsparing and heartbreaking, mordantly funny and powerfully felt, Cocaine’s Son clears a place for Dave Itzkoff in the forefront of contemporary memoirists.
With his twinkling eyes, boundless energy and unrivalled natural wit, Robin Williams was the comedian who brought laughter to a generation.Through roles in cherished films such as Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, Aladdin and Hook, he became the genial face of family comedy. His child-like enthusiasm was infectious, sweeping viewers away. Allied to his lightning-quick improvisation and ability to riff lewdly off any cue thrown at him, Robin was that rare thing - a true comic genius who appealed to adults and children equally.He could also play it straight, and empathetic depth came to him naturally. A poignant performance in Good Will Hunting won him an Academy Award whilst his masterfully chilling turn in psychological thriller Insomnia shocked audiences and hinted at a darker side.What truly caught the imagination, though, was his good-heartedness. Warmth radiated from him on-screen, but he was legendary for his off-screen acts of selfless generosity. Where most Hollywood A-listers demand outrageous pampering in their contract riders, he always insisted that the production company hire a full quota of homeless people to help make his movies.But behind the laughter lay a deeply troubled man, and tragedy would follow. At midday, on 11 August 2014, Robin Williams was pronounced dead at his California home. The verdict was suicide. He had battled depression and addiction for many years and was allegedly beset by financial difficulties.Virginia Blackburn's sensitive and thoughtful biography celebrates his genius and warmth, but also attempts to understand what could have driven such a gentle and gifted man to so tragic an end. This is Robin Williams, the life, the laughter, and the deep sorrow of the man who made the world smile.
"Blues, being the wellspring of all American music for over a century, is always worth studying. Robert does it right." --Keith Richards

"An emotional map of musical Memphis. If you don't know these characters, let Robert Gordon introduce you." --Elvis Costello

"Robert Gordon's book is proof that Southern heritage is American heritage, and all sorts of people--black and white, familiar and strange, dead and alive--are what it is." --Greil Marcus

Profiles and stories of Southern music from the acclaimed author of Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion.

The fabled city of Memphis has been essential to American music--home of the blues, the birthplace of rock and roll, a soul music capital. We know the greatest hits, but celebrated author Robert Gordon takes us to the people and places history has yet to record. A Memphis native, he whiles away time in a crumbling duplex with blues legend Furry Lewis, stays up late with barrelhouse piano player Mose Vinson, and sips homemade whiskey at Junior Kimbrough's churning house parties. A passionate listener, he hears modern times deep in the grooves of old records by Lead Belly and Robert Johnson.

The interconnected profiles and stories in Memphis Rent Party convey more than a region. Like mint seeping into bourbon, Gordon gets into the wider world. He beholds the beauty of mistakes with producer Jim Dickinson (Replacements, Rolling Stones), charts the stars with Alex Chilton (Box Tops, Big Star), and mulls the tragedy of Jeff Buckley's fatal swim. Gordon's Memphis inspires Cat Power, attracts Townes Van Zandt, and finds James Carr always singing at the dark end of the street.

A rent party is when friends come together to hear music, dance, and help a pal through hard times; it's a celebration in the face of looming tragedy, an optimism when the wolf is at the door. Robert Gordon finds mystery in the mundane, inspiration in the bleakness, and revels in the individualism that connects these diverse encounters.
The behind-the-scenes story of the making of the iconic movie Network, which transformed the way we think about television and the way television thinks about us

"I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

Those words, spoken by an unhinged anchorman named Howard Beale, "the mad prophet of the airwaves," took America by storm in 1976, when Network became a sensation. With a superb cast (including Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, and Robert Duvall) directed by Sidney Lumet, the film won four Academy Awards and indelibly shaped how we think about corporate and media power.
In Mad As Hell, Dave Itzkoff of The New York Times recounts the surprising and dramatic story of how Network made it to the screen. Such a movie rarely gets made any more—one man's vision of the world, independent of studio testing or market research. And that man was Paddy Chayefsky, the tough, driven, Oscar-winning screenwriter whose vision—outlandish for its time—is all too real today. Itzkoff uses interviews with the cast and crew, as well as Chayefsky's notes, letters, and drafts to re-create the action in front of and behind the camera at a time of swirling cultural turmoil. The result is a riveting account that enriches our appreciation of this prophetic and still-startling film.
Itzkoff also speaks with today's leading broadcasters and filmmakers to assess Network's lasting impact on television and popular culture. They testify to the enduring genius of Paddy Chayefsky, who foresaw the future and whose life offers an unforgettable lesson about the true cost of self-expression.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Michiko Kakutani, New York Times • USA Today • San Francisco Chronicle • NPR • Esquire • Newsday • Booklist

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

Praise for Born a Crime

 “[A] compelling new memoir . . . By turns alarming, sad and funny, [Trevor Noah’s] book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah’s family, at life in South Africa under apartheid. . . . Born a Crime is not just an unnerving account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid, but a love letter to the author’s remarkable mother.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“[An] unforgettable memoir.”—Parade

 “What makes Born a Crime such a soul-nourishing pleasure, even with all its darker edges and perilous turns, is reading Noah recount in brisk, warmly conversational prose how he learned to negotiate his way through the bullying and ostracism. . . . What also helped was having a mother like Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah. . . . Consider Born a Crime another such gift to her—and an enormous gift to the rest of us.”—USA Today

“[Noah] thrives with the help of his astonishingly fearless mother. . . . Their fierce bond makes this story soar.”—People
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