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From the comedian, actor, and former host of The Late Late Show comes an irreverent, lyrical memoir in essays featuring his signature wit. Craig Ferguson has defied the odds his entire life. He has failed when he should have succeeded and succeeded when he should have failed. The fact that he is neither dead nor in a locked facility (at the time of printing) is something of From the comedian, actor, and former host of The Late Late Show comes an irreverent, lyrical memoir in essays featuring his signature wit. Craig Ferguson has defied the odds his entire life. He has failed when he should have succeeded and succeeded when he should have failed. The fact that he is neither dead nor in a locked facility (at the time of printing) is something of a miracle in itself. In Craig's candid and revealing memoir, readers will get a look into the mind and recollections of the unique and twisted Scottish American who became a national hero for pioneering the world's first TV robot skeleton sidekick and reviving two dudes in a horse suit dancing as a form of entertainment. In Riding the Elephant, there are some stories that are too graphic for television, too politically incorrect for social media, or too meditative for a stand-up comedy performance. Craig discusses his deep love for his native Scotland, examines his profound psychic change brought on by fatherhood, and looks at aging and mortality with a perspective that he was incapable of as a younger man. Each story is strung together in a colorful tapestry that ultimately reveals a complicated man who has learned to process--and even enjoy--the unusual trajectory of his life.


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From the comedian, actor, and former host of The Late Late Show comes an irreverent, lyrical memoir in essays featuring his signature wit. Craig Ferguson has defied the odds his entire life. He has failed when he should have succeeded and succeeded when he should have failed. The fact that he is neither dead nor in a locked facility (at the time of printing) is something of From the comedian, actor, and former host of The Late Late Show comes an irreverent, lyrical memoir in essays featuring his signature wit. Craig Ferguson has defied the odds his entire life. He has failed when he should have succeeded and succeeded when he should have failed. The fact that he is neither dead nor in a locked facility (at the time of printing) is something of a miracle in itself. In Craig's candid and revealing memoir, readers will get a look into the mind and recollections of the unique and twisted Scottish American who became a national hero for pioneering the world's first TV robot skeleton sidekick and reviving two dudes in a horse suit dancing as a form of entertainment. In Riding the Elephant, there are some stories that are too graphic for television, too politically incorrect for social media, or too meditative for a stand-up comedy performance. Craig discusses his deep love for his native Scotland, examines his profound psychic change brought on by fatherhood, and looks at aging and mortality with a perspective that he was incapable of as a younger man. Each story is strung together in a colorful tapestry that ultimately reveals a complicated man who has learned to process--and even enjoy--the unusual trajectory of his life.

30 review for Riding the Elephant: A Memoir of Altercations, Humiliations, Hallucinations, and Observations

  1. 5 out of 5

    Char

    The only reason I was interested in reading this was because I read a short story by Craig Ferguson, (though I can't remember which collection it was in), and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed this audiobook as well. Craig Ferguson is a Scottish-American and he is hilarious. He's honest about his addictions and alcoholism, about his marriages and about his career. At times I nearly lost it, listening to him talk about the huge zit that appeared on his nose, just before the big school dance. He talke The only reason I was interested in reading this was because I read a short story by Craig Ferguson, (though I can't remember which collection it was in), and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed this audiobook as well. Craig Ferguson is a Scottish-American and he is hilarious. He's honest about his addictions and alcoholism, about his marriages and about his career. At times I nearly lost it, listening to him talk about the huge zit that appeared on his nose, just before the big school dance. He talked about stepping in dog poop. He talked about sports teams...(yeah, the Packers v. Broncos bit just slayed me.) Overall, this book was fun and now I would like to read or listen to more of his work. Recommended! *I downloaded this book from my local library. Libraries RULE!*

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I loved Craig Ferguson's late night show. I enjoyed his radio show whenever I could. Even when I wasn't a big reader, I read and enjoyed his autobiography. And I enjoyed this book as well. This feels more introspective than American On Purpose, and there is plenty here to dig into and think about, from dealing with your past, fears about your present, and uncertainty about the future. It might not sound it, but I feel like it's ultimately a hopeful book, one where we can learn from each other an I loved Craig Ferguson's late night show. I enjoyed his radio show whenever I could. Even when I wasn't a big reader, I read and enjoyed his autobiography. And I enjoyed this book as well. This feels more introspective than American On Purpose, and there is plenty here to dig into and think about, from dealing with your past, fears about your present, and uncertainty about the future. It might not sound it, but I feel like it's ultimately a hopeful book, one where we can learn from each other and learn how to handle what life throws our way. (Also, the chapter on Margaret in particular was lovely.) The one thing that I found frustrating is that it seems like Ferguson has never met a fat person he doesn't feel compelled to tell us about their fatness. Fat people are porcine and have fat fingers, and they're the ones who make toilet seats warm, never their thin counterparts. Fatness is presented as something bad. Whenever mentions of fatness happened (which wasn't a lot but enough to notice), it felt like a short slap that briefly took me out of whatever was being said. Though I could get myself back into the story being told, these quick hits against fatness were disappointing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jessi

    I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. Craig Ferguson's memoir is full of laughs, reflections, and sage advice. I enjoyed that the memoir was in the form of essays. He was open about his struggle with drugs and alcohol, and the impact it had on his life. I learned how a pile of dog poop can change your entire year. I can never look at NFL mascot matchups quite the same ever again. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys snarky, honest memoirs. I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. Craig Ferguson's memoir is full of laughs, reflections, and sage advice. I enjoyed that the memoir was in the form of essays. He was open about his struggle with drugs and alcohol, and the impact it had on his life. I learned how a pile of dog poop can change your entire year. I can never look at NFL mascot matchups quite the same ever again. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys snarky, honest memoirs.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Caryn - iam.caryn

    I usually stick to fiction as a reader because reading is my escape. I need to be able to lose myself in untrue stories. If anything can make me read non-fiction... it’s Craig Ferguson. I have previously read and loved his autobiography: American On Purpose. I decided to do the audiobook of Riding the Elephant because he was the narrator. I watched his talk show for 10 years because I loved how he told stories. He’s unmatched in his ability to simultaneously mix his clever wit with “real talk”. T I usually stick to fiction as a reader because reading is my escape. I need to be able to lose myself in untrue stories. If anything can make me read non-fiction... it’s Craig Ferguson. I have previously read and loved his autobiography: American On Purpose. I decided to do the audiobook of Riding the Elephant because he was the narrator. I watched his talk show for 10 years because I loved how he told stories. He’s unmatched in his ability to simultaneously mix his clever wit with “real talk”. The way he’s always told his personal stories is effortless and he’s brutally honest about all of his experiences. Never holding back. Having lived such a fascinating life, the way he talks about his memories is utterly captivating. One second, he can make you giggle and then the next, you’ll be completely silent while nodding your head agreeing with the truth he’s spilling out. Reading Riding the Elephant is reading full uncensored Craig. If anything, he’s better than he ever was. He was making me laugh. Making me think. Making me want to jump up and applaud his daring introspective. Listening to him tell his stories again was a wonderful experience. After each chapter I would say “wow” out loud. That man certainly has a way with words. ... I’m not sure how relevant this will be for my review, but I’m going to get deeply personal here. Sometimes it’s hard to explain how much a book can mean to you, and I have a bit of a story to tell. This is not something I’ve ever talked about with anyone other than my mom, so here it goes: Craig Ferguson saved my life. Five nights a week. Every week. For ten years. During that time of my life, I was dealing with some serious depression. The type of scary depression that is not easy to talk about. It wasn’t the first time I’ve dealt with that and it wasn’t the last. However, this was the first time that I found something that actually helped me. One January night in 2005, during a bought of insomnia, I was channel surfing (did I just age myself? Does anyone even do that anymore?) and stumbled across the west coast feed of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. I couldn’t tell you who the guests were that night, I can’t remember any jokes that were told, I didn’t have my eureka moment or anything like that. I just remember laughing. A lot. Harder than I had in a remarkably long time. This late night talk show host had the type of humour that was completely my type of humour. I went to bed smiling for the first time in forever. I tuned in again the next night (east coast feed this time), and the next night, and the next, etc. It took a couple of months, but I slowly came to realize I felt a little lighter in my soul. And that’s when I had my eureka moment. Craig Ferguson was helping me. He was helping me get better. He was helping me be me again. It felt like he was saving me. All because of how he told jokes and how he talked about his own history through anecdotes. He often made me feel completely understood because of what he would confide to his audience. So, for ten years, I lived through every weekday knowing this... I was guaranteed a laugh at the end of the day; I would have this brilliant man tell the most beautifully insightful and moving stories; I could let all of my troubles go, just a little bit, because I had this show to cheer me up, that was hosted by a Scottish comedian, who had a robot skeleton sidekick and two guys in a pantomime horse costume. Knowing that I would have these guarantees got me through a lot of really hard days. Remarkably, during those years, I almost never felt myself falling back into that darkness that’s forever following me. All because of a late night show that could be silly and poignant, and sometimes both at the same time. Did I ever think a comedian with a tv show could ever come to mean so much to me? To be a bright light in the darkness? No. Who ever would have guessed that? But that show definitely left it’s mark on me. I still notice when the clock reads 12:37. Riding the Elephant brought me back to the days of watching that show. Remembering that first night when I fell asleep with a smile on my face and realizing how far I’ve come. So thank you Craig for writing this book. ... and thank you for saving me all those years ago.

  5. 4 out of 5

    bookellenic

    Instagram | Twitter 4.5/5 In my recent review of Educated by Tara Westover (as in the review I posted right before this one), I said that the attraction memoirs hold for me has nothing to do with the identity of the author and all to do with their experiences I read on paper. Contradicting myself almost entirely, I picked up Craig Ferguson's latest memoir precisely because of who Craig Ferguson is. I'm not sure I would have prioritised it if I had read its synopsis alone, but the fact that Craig w Instagram | Twitter 4.5/5 In my recent review of Educated by Tara Westover (as in the review I posted right before this one), I said that the attraction memoirs hold for me has nothing to do with the identity of the author and all to do with their experiences I read on paper. Contradicting myself almost entirely, I picked up Craig Ferguson's latest memoir precisely because of who Craig Ferguson is. I'm not sure I would have prioritised it if I had read its synopsis alone, but the fact that Craig was one of the first comedians to introduce me to the concept of stand-up, late night television as it was in the past decade, the cultural vortex of American and British he embodied and the notion that comedians have a lot more materials than a few random videos on YouTube... yes, I was not going to give this a miss. I can definitely say that Ferguson's writing has improved in this one. "How can I measure someone's writing improvement when I'm comparing two memoirs?", one might ask. Well, I couldn't possibly tell you. All I can say is, I chose the audiobook for both (Ferguson's narration is the way to go,I think), and I liked Riding the Elephant even more than American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot. I felt that his comedic self shone brighter in this one, compared to his earlier memoir that had a lot more information on how his life unraveled chronologically, which I very much liked, but I was mostly aware of through his shows (I told you, I'm a fan). Whilst there were bits and pieces in here that I was already familiar with, the way he told his stories made them so enjoyable that I, once again, laughed out loud. I also thought that Riding the Elephant was very much two things: A. An ode to British culture, which is and always will be a part of him, the way that American on Purpose was a celebration of his chosen home as a naturalised American citizen. He is a proud American, which doesn't make him any less of a proud Scot, and that's that. I strategically employ the term "British" here, because a lot of its content has to do with England, the time he spent in London, his interpretation the country's policies and the way a Scottish person views the English nation. Mind you, there is no sugarcoating here. Craig's opinions do not attempt to coddle and fondle. Precisely the reason why I kept smiling and laughing throughout the book. B. A love letter to his wife and family. I think his life lessons and bright mind led him to become that person that oozes praise and gratitude for his family, which has earned my respect. He's also well-read without attempting to throw it into anyone's face, it's so very humbling to witness. So why knock off half a star, you might think? Give it a whole 5, you cheapo. Now the thing is, I very much could. I enjoyed this book immensely. But it was Ferguson who first planted the seed of the idea that just because you like somebody, and that somebody is celebrity, you don't automatically stop seeing any fault in them. Fame is not to be deified (indirectly quoting him here). At times I thought that the book tried to please the reader, so in sight of this politically correct attire that I might be actually inventing, since I have known Ferguson's work to not conform to such patterns whatsoever, I thought I should make my point by stating that this was not the best book of all time for me (albeit one of my favourites this year). So, I guess this is very much an overthinking individual writing a redundant paragraph over here. Hi. I think that if you're looking for a laugh, or even if you're in the mood to explore any of the subjects mentioned above though someone else's authentic viewpoint, you'll very much appreciate Riding the Elephant regardless of who the author is and whether you're a fan of his work. For me, it elevated the reading experience to know, in a sense, the voice behind the narrative, the person behind the pen. As a non-British person with a very predictable tendency to romantisise everything British, this book was a perfect fit.

  6. 4 out of 5

    TraceyL

    Craig Ferguson is a very funny man. In this book, he manages to talk about the depression, drug and alcohol abuse he's dealt with over his life, and is funny about it. If you're a fan of Ferguson, you'll like this book. As a memoir on it's own, I didn't gain any new insights or anything, but I still enjoyed the read. Craig Ferguson is a very funny man. In this book, he manages to talk about the depression, drug and alcohol abuse he's dealt with over his life, and is funny about it. If you're a fan of Ferguson, you'll like this book. As a memoir on it's own, I didn't gain any new insights or anything, but I still enjoyed the read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Frank Privette

    Yes, five stars. But hear me out. Even though I have long loved Craig Ferguson (since Drew Carey!) this guy is a really, really good writer. I thought so when I finished reading his only novel, Between the Bridge and the River, and I think so now. Don’t expect Shakespeare. Obviously. And don’t expect Plato. But Ferguson’s “memoir” (this is not his autobiography, which he published over ten years ago and I haven’t read) is a captivating, lively, smart, surprisingly fair and objective, often campy, Yes, five stars. But hear me out. Even though I have long loved Craig Ferguson (since Drew Carey!) this guy is a really, really good writer. I thought so when I finished reading his only novel, Between the Bridge and the River, and I think so now. Don’t expect Shakespeare. Obviously. And don’t expect Plato. But Ferguson’s “memoir” (this is not his autobiography, which he published over ten years ago and I haven’t read) is a captivating, lively, smart, surprisingly fair and objective, often campy, consistently funny, and sometimes hilarious read. It borders on being downright insightful, given the life he’s led (an alcoholic dry for almost three decades, a stand up comedian, a carney, an actor, a late night talk show host, an author, a screewriter, a divorcee). In its “genre” (whatever that may be) it certainly merits five stars. Just four highlights, to whet your appetite: 1. “It’s as if hell had lost its lid.” A direct quote from his grandfather’s diary about the first time he experienced being shelled during an attempt to cross No Man’s Land during the First World War. 2. When he memorably describes his experience using a Japanese public toilet and compares it to the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas. I do not say this lightly: I laughed outloud. 3. “Action creates results, not thought.” From his ongoing AA sessions. Take that, self-helpers. 4. The last chapter. A “fictional” (?) account of a Scottish woman. If it doesn’t warm your heart, you don’t have one. Yes, the book may seem to be that random. And it’s certainly that great. What are you waiting for? Go read it!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Oh, this is such a good book. I listened to the audiobook (narrated by the author). When I finished, I restarted it to listen some more. I first learned about Craig Ferguson from his late night show. He was funny, and I was impressed when he refused to lampoon Britney Spears following her mental health crisis. Then, I read American on Purpose. I loved that book, too. Riding the Elephant is darker than American on Purpose. Still, Ferguson's life and candor are interesting. Highly recommended. Oh, this is such a good book. I listened to the audiobook (narrated by the author). When I finished, I restarted it to listen some more. I first learned about Craig Ferguson from his late night show. He was funny, and I was impressed when he refused to lampoon Britney Spears following her mental health crisis. Then, I read American on Purpose. I loved that book, too. Riding the Elephant is darker than American on Purpose. Still, Ferguson's life and candor are interesting. Highly recommended.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    I won this book in a GoodReads giveaway. I enjoyed watching Craig's late night show years ago, so I was interested in reading this book. Craig's brand of humor shines in this book with a thoughtful look at various events in his life that have had an impact on him. It's the perfect read for any fan or anyone looking for a unique yet humorous nonfiction read. I won this book in a GoodReads giveaway. I enjoyed watching Craig's late night show years ago, so I was interested in reading this book. Craig's brand of humor shines in this book with a thoughtful look at various events in his life that have had an impact on him. It's the perfect read for any fan or anyone looking for a unique yet humorous nonfiction read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    JenniferD

    this review is for the audiobook edition, narrated by the author, craig ferguson. yep, it was okay. i find ferguson, generally, pretty clever and entertaining. and he can certainly throw together a sentence that smacks! but i never really clicked with this one - apart from quite enjoying listening to his scottishness.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jake

    “Couldn’t put it down” is a statement often associated with thrillers and mysteries. These genres come packed with suspense. Yet, memoirs and essay collections can also be hard to put down, even when they contain very little suspense. Such is Craig Ferguson’s new monologue-style book of essays, Riding the Elephant: A Memoir of Altercations, Humiliations, Hallucinations & Observations. I didn’t read it in one sitting; my schedule didn’t allow that. But each time I sat down to read a couple more c “Couldn’t put it down” is a statement often associated with thrillers and mysteries. These genres come packed with suspense. Yet, memoirs and essay collections can also be hard to put down, even when they contain very little suspense. Such is Craig Ferguson’s new monologue-style book of essays, Riding the Elephant: A Memoir of Altercations, Humiliations, Hallucinations & Observations. I didn’t read it in one sitting; my schedule didn’t allow that. But each time I sat down to read a couple more chapters, I found myself wanting to spend all the time I could with the book. If, like me, you’ve already read Mr. Ferguson’s autobiography, American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot, then bear in mind Riding the Elephant is not a sequel to that book. It covers some of the same ground, but in a profoundly different way. This book is not a single narrative, nor a chronological one. It is more of a reflective work rather than a narrative. Each chapter is essentially a monologue mingling memory and rumination. There are new anecdotes enriched by years of hindsight. Like many people, I came to know Craig through his decade as host of <.i>The Late Late Show on CBS. Craig’s relaxed, improvisational approach to the show was refreshing and his perspective delightful. I was disappointed when he gave it up. And honestly, I haven’t followed his career closely since he abandoned the show, and by extension me. Intentionally, this book revisits his monologue style from that show. I laughed out loud often. Yet the book is far more than comedy. Honestly, considering all the perspective and gratitude he seems to have acquired, I think this book is the most brilliantly enjoyable Craig has ever been. This book reminded me of The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher’s last book. I devoured that one, and for the same reason I relished Riding the Elephant. I felt like I was spending time with the author, like it was him and me sitting on a bench somewhere sipping our favorite beverages and conversing without feeling rushed. If you’ve considered yourself a true fan of Craig at any point in his career, Riding the Elephant is a must read. It will be time well spent.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    Oh Craig I was going to have to knock you down to 4 Stars for that whole Chapter about your teenage acne. I got the point you were making but it was way to descriptive. THEN I got to Chapter 10 - The Helpers. It was utterly brilliant. 5+ Stars! "God doesn’t choose the leaders. If there is a God, more than likely She (I’d tend to imagine a benevolent creator in the feminine) sees who we put in charge and it strains Her unconditional love for us." It's irrelevant whether or not you're a fan of his Oh Craig I was going to have to knock you down to 4 Stars for that whole Chapter about your teenage acne. I got the point you were making but it was way to descriptive. THEN I got to Chapter 10 - The Helpers. It was utterly brilliant. 5+ Stars! "God doesn’t choose the leaders. If there is a God, more than likely She (I’d tend to imagine a benevolent creator in the feminine) sees who we put in charge and it strains Her unconditional love for us." It's irrelevant whether or not you're a fan of his, reading this book could inspire you to be a better person. "It doesn’t matter what you believe; it only matters how you behave." Be what the "great becardiganed philosopher Fred Rogers called “helpers.” Whether 'young, old, gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, believer or unbeliever' doesn't matter. Be a Helper. "Helpers are people who try to make life more bearable for those who are suffering. They are people who try to clean up the mess, are tolerant of the weak- minded, and resist those who would exploit others for their pleasure or profit." Helping is an "expression of the divine." As for the rest of the book it's funny and insightful. He's honest about his alcohol addiction and why his first 2 marriages failed. His love for his boys and wife Megan shines through. He muses on a variety of topics and then circles back for an epic ending. It may also leave you wondering if you can install a Japanese bathroom in your house.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kate Woods Walker

    I had this on pre-order since the day I heard of it. Beautiful prose, interesting scenes, just a smidge of showbiz. I hope now to see the remaining two volumes of his Between the Bridge and the River. We miss you, Craig!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joanie

    You'd be hard-pressed to call Craig Ferguson a coward after reading this book. It's his version of a diary, but unlike a teen girl's diary, his is unflinchingly honest and possess at least 34% fewer unicorns, which is odd since he's Scottish and unicorns are apparently from Scotland, but rarely from Cumbernauld. Look, you can read books from celebrities, or about celebrities, but there's only one with a Scottish accent, sharp wit, and who is tall enough to stand behind everyone else and still abl You'd be hard-pressed to call Craig Ferguson a coward after reading this book. It's his version of a diary, but unlike a teen girl's diary, his is unflinchingly honest and possess at least 34% fewer unicorns, which is odd since he's Scottish and unicorns are apparently from Scotland, but rarely from Cumbernauld. Look, you can read books from celebrities, or about celebrities, but there's only one with a Scottish accent, sharp wit, and who is tall enough to stand behind everyone else and still able to see the parade of absurdities in this world and who could narrate it as superbly as Craig. Basically, what I'm trying to say is: read this book. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll probably want to call your best friend and talk about everything you just read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brigita Soldo

    I know I'm always biased when it comes to Craig but I don't really care. He makes me laugh out loud and then deeply moves me the next minute. Generally speaking, he has a unique way with words and I'll always hope he keeps on writing, be it fiction or non-fiction. The last chapter completely caught me off guard. Absolutely brilliant. I know I'm always biased when it comes to Craig but I don't really care. He makes me laugh out loud and then deeply moves me the next minute. Generally speaking, he has a unique way with words and I'll always hope he keeps on writing, be it fiction or non-fiction. The last chapter completely caught me off guard. Absolutely brilliant.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    3.5 stars This book appears on lists under the category of humour. I think it is better suited to memoir. Yes, there are laugh-out-loud moments, but there are many more that are poignant, pointed, and introspective in a serious way. I admire Ferguson for his unrelenting honesty, his self-knowledge and his willingness to call out bullshit when he sees it. If I gave it 3.5 stars instead of 4, it's because I found the book a bit slow at times. However, when he hit the mark in certain chapters, it wa 3.5 stars This book appears on lists under the category of humour. I think it is better suited to memoir. Yes, there are laugh-out-loud moments, but there are many more that are poignant, pointed, and introspective in a serious way. I admire Ferguson for his unrelenting honesty, his self-knowledge and his willingness to call out bullshit when he sees it. If I gave it 3.5 stars instead of 4, it's because I found the book a bit slow at times. However, when he hit the mark in certain chapters, it was a bull's-eye.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Adriana

    I enjoy Ferguson's style and listening to him tell his story was entertaining and a little bit uplifting. I enjoy Ferguson's style and listening to him tell his story was entertaining and a little bit uplifting.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sylwia

    I'm biased, as he's one of my favorite celebs. I enjoyed this a lot. I'm biased, as he's one of my favorite celebs. I enjoyed this a lot.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Generally I feel his American by Choice was a better book, and I was going to give this one 3-3.5 stars at most. And then in the 21st chapter, Ferguson hit his stride for me and struck upon a whole series of commentaries on the current world perspective that articulated so many points of bother in my own bonnet. Particularly striking is the seeming profound inability for people to embrace/tolerate a sense of humor about anything touchy. With that, Ferguson won me over. Is 4 stars a bit generous? Generally I feel his American by Choice was a better book, and I was going to give this one 3-3.5 stars at most. And then in the 21st chapter, Ferguson hit his stride for me and struck upon a whole series of commentaries on the current world perspective that articulated so many points of bother in my own bonnet. Particularly striking is the seeming profound inability for people to embrace/tolerate a sense of humor about anything touchy. With that, Ferguson won me over. Is 4 stars a bit generous? Sure, but it’s Christmas and I do have room in my gut for a good chuckle.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Williams

    Really enjoyed this. I’ve always found Craig Ferguson’s repartee with his guests to be playful and easy to watch, and hoped his memoir would be similar. What comes from these pages is authenticity and honest, full-throttle humor, along with meaningful and compelling stories of his life and tribulations, all of which makes him an even more sympathetic and interesting person. Thank you, Craig, for allowing yourself to be so vulnerable and accessible- this is your truest and most meaningful talent.

  21. 5 out of 5

    John

    Have been a huge fan of this man for a long time and red his first fiction recently. This was an incredibly enjoyable and insightful read. He says it isn't linear and he wasn't kidding! Somehow though it all seems to tie in together. That last chapter shows some real talent for writing as well. Fun and witty was expected, a few hilarious moments laughing out loud through my mask on public transport, but there is much more to be had in these pages. Have been a huge fan of this man for a long time and red his first fiction recently. This was an incredibly enjoyable and insightful read. He says it isn't linear and he wasn't kidding! Somehow though it all seems to tie in together. That last chapter shows some real talent for writing as well. Fun and witty was expected, a few hilarious moments laughing out loud through my mask on public transport, but there is much more to be had in these pages.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Faiza Sattar

    ★★★★★ (5/5) One of the interesting quirks of the aging process is that events that seemed to have little or no impact at the time resonate with a thunderous importance later on, like an expertly constructed detective novel. From the very beginning, I settled on two words which described this book perfectly: delightfully sad. Craig has a unique way with words. He spins and weaves intricate emotions with exceptional brevity and boundless wit. As evident from his most notable stint as a host for a la ★★★★★ (5/5) One of the interesting quirks of the aging process is that events that seemed to have little or no impact at the time resonate with a thunderous importance later on, like an expertly constructed detective novel. From the very beginning, I settled on two words which described this book perfectly: delightfully sad. Craig has a unique way with words. He spins and weaves intricate emotions with exceptional brevity and boundless wit. As evident from his most notable stint as a host for a late night talk show and his previous writings, Craig really is unapologetically himself - conscientious, illimitable and of course thoroughly entertaining. From the profane to the most discerning of life's elements, Craig writes his memoirs with a charming nonchalance that I attribute to his Scottish heritage. Action creates thought, not the other way round. Not the rather grand Descartian proclamation “I think, therefore I am,” but rather a more pragmatic philosophy of “I am, therefore I think.” In a brief unraveling of his life, he sheds light on what it means to be an assimilated immigrant, a self-destructive dipsomaniac, a loving father and husband with a marred albeit joyous childhood, an introspective aging adult and an empathetic society man. His sage anecdotes are not didactic but hold an endearing familiarity. There are no high-falutin ideals pursued, just a fantastic truth molded from nostalgia and the past. One of my favorite passages from the book is when Craig describes a particularly inconsequential yet gratifying experience: "I remember standing in a fantastic, congenial crowded pub at about 1 in the morning when a little puddle of seawater that had been lodged in my ear canal ran out. The water had been heated by my own body temperature, and the sensation of it trickling out is still one of the most delicious physical experiences I have ever had. I will remember that moment until the day I die. To this day whenever I take a swim, it crosses my mind that I might get lucky again." The narration is so sublime, so scintillating, the words so lofty and full of purposeful expression that I am tempted to read the lines over and over. Having read his previous autobiography American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot, blanks left in this memoir are filled with ease. Both memoirs complement each other. The former being a chronological narration of his life, the latter being a collection of anecdotes and incidents that have perhaps contributed to Craig's perception on a life lived and loved. The very last chapter of this memoir is a testament to Craig's talent as a storyteller. He is, undoubtedly, one of my favorite authors to look forward to reading and I hope I get to revisit Between the Bridge and the River soon. A selection of my favourite passages from the book On Aging • It seems to me people make up stories to fit their perception about you. They don’t just do it about me, of course. It happens to everybody. I do it to myself. I’m getting older now and the shadows are getting longer. When I look into them I see shapes move and stir and I think I remember what they are, but maybe I’m just making it up to suit a reality about myself that I find comfortable. • I want to grow old like Dennis and pantomimes. Busy, enthusiastic, noisy, colorful, politically incorrect, and singing. • Old people are from a different tribe than the young. The young are in firm denial of their own mortality. That’s why they can be talked into being kamikaze pilots or suicide bombers, or take shocking risks with their own personal safety through stupid stunts and excessive alcohol and drugs. The idea of not being is incomprehensible to them. • An odd but, I’m assured, common phenomenon of the aging process is that childhood memories long thought to be forgotten seem to resurface with shocking and vivid clarity. I am unsure whether to believe in the verisimilitude of these recollections or whether they are just one of the entertainments of a decaying brain. Wise Gems • I’ve never found the notion that “things would have worked if circumstances had been different” to be particularly helpful. Circumstances are what they are. • These people were great artists despite their appetite for self-destruction, not because of it. • The acquisition of power tends to draw the worst people in our species. The narcissistic, sniveling demagogues who are so insecure about themselves and their ideas that they have to oppress all discussion and dissent, whether by force or by decrying any contrary opinion as treason or lunacy. • Fear doesn’t deal in fact. It lives in untruth and rumor, like a modern politician. It’s a voracious weed that needs just a whiff of uncertainty to thrive, because fear needs to conceal itself from plain sight in order to be really effective. • In fact, going by feel without having an idea of where you are in the scheme of things will often get you in very big trouble in life Astute Observations • As my late-night show came to an end, I kind of went to pieces. It’s not that I didn’t want to leave; I did, but even if I had not, I felt that there was a change in the wind, that the late-night television world was resetting itself and there was no longer a place for someone like me. • Loyalty is not borne so much out of admiration or respect for their candidate, but more out of the hatred of the opponent. • The look of utter terror on that poor man’s face. It wasn’t a face built for fear; it was a face for beer and fun and laughing and life. Maybe sadness, but not fear. Seeing fear on that face was an abomination; it was terrifying, but it was the noise that shocked me more. Davie was wailing like a giant terrified child. • But more importantly he taught me about connection, that sense of cheeky impudence that I believe is essential for a comedian. • So in order to keep bad things from happening, it would seem to make sense to worry about them as a preventative measure. If you don’t worry about things, then they happen. • I began to realize that I had a responsibility toward him that transcended my own comfort. I believe this is at the core of real love. • There’s nothing sexual for the victim of a so-called sexual assault. That experience belongs to the predator. Call the assault brutal or criminal or disgusting, but calling it sexual in a headline is disingenuous. Across the Atlantic • James Joyce said of sentimentality that it was “unearned emotion,” which I imagine is a belief he must have picked up from his Irish mother. • I reject the idea that inheritance is worthy of social status. I resent that the old-boy network propels others forward while leaving others behind regardless of ability. • My father always told me, “If you’re not fifteen minutes early, you’re late,” and I believe that to be true. • There is the notion that if you have to be diligent and industrious and persistent at a creative venture, then you must not be very good. • He and his hundreds of thousands of brothers-in-arms who marched away to war and never returned are at the root of a titanic melancholy and despair which is still palpable in Britain today. Not just because of the horrific carnage or the despicable propaganda that they were laying down their lives to end war in the world rather than being abused in the death throes of feudalism in service of a twisted spat between Victoria’s children. • I believe the real reason that the Brits love the monarchy is their inherent love of theater and gossip, both of which the royal family provide. The pageantry and ceremony of the religious and military roles played by the queen and her family is nice, especially along with the more relatable but still salacious family tribulations. • Like most Scots I have a profound emotional connection to this time of year; it plays into our dramatic, cinematic sense of ourselves and affords us the opportunity to gaze glassy-eyed into the distance and feel emotions about loss and hope that frankly we don’t usually have time for. • “The best thing that ever came out of Scotland was the road to England.” Beautifully Constructed Sentences • It also seems to me that the phrase riding the elephant contains a perfect description for a life which seems to take any direction it chooses, paying scant attention to my instructions or commands. The big gray fucker just goes where it wants. • In the time before I loved you, I never thought of the world as precious. It had value to me only in its sensuality and its ability to satiate my appetites. This was the time when I was ruled by the tyranny of desire. If I couldn’t eat it or snort it or own it or drink it or make it cry or laugh or give me money, then it was invisible to me. I had no empathy, but used sentimentality and wit and slurred prose to cloak my ugliness. • A job on “ra mulk” was highly prized among my contemporaries. I remember the solitude of these mornings as some of the most beautiful and evocative moments of my early life. The sunrise in the west of Scotland is incandescent and sometimes—often—it’s the only time of the day when it doesn’t rain. • It horrifies me now to think of the amount of nighttime drunken swimming I’ve done in my life. I wouldn’t so much as take a bath in candlelight these days, but I was a wilder version of myself then. • In my memory now I still do as I did that day. I brush off the loose stones and debris that attached to me after my fall, and this can’t be true but it is. In the clouds ahead I see your face and the faces of our children and I smile and then I roar with delight as I run as fast as I can toward you.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Richard Janzen

    Absolutely love Craig Ferguson, but didn’t love the book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Geoff

    While I didn't enjoy it as much as American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot, I enjoyed this book as Ferguson jumped around his life with essays about his Scottish childhood, love, meeting Princess Diana, kids and not being on TV anymore. While I didn't enjoy it as much as American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot, I enjoyed this book as Ferguson jumped around his life with essays about his Scottish childhood, love, meeting Princess Diana, kids and not being on TV anymore.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dayva

    Craig Ferguson's mind is funny, often sexy, and quintessentially beautiful. All of this pours out onto the pages of this book. I was instantly drawn into this work by the raw emotion that fills the first pages and carried me through a rollercoaster of feelings to the very last page. That last chapter, though. It really got me. If you want your chest to fill with chuckles and your heart to spill over in a poignant rush, all in a few pages, and then do it over, again, read this book. Craig Ferguson's mind is funny, often sexy, and quintessentially beautiful. All of this pours out onto the pages of this book. I was instantly drawn into this work by the raw emotion that fills the first pages and carried me through a rollercoaster of feelings to the very last page. That last chapter, though. It really got me. If you want your chest to fill with chuckles and your heart to spill over in a poignant rush, all in a few pages, and then do it over, again, read this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    TL

    Just as good second time around:) Craig Ferguson is one of the comedians who never fails to cheer me up.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Hobbs

    Some parts of this made me laugh out loud. His description of Japanese toilets, for instance. Lots of fun!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Annagrace

    I love Craig Ferguson’s sense of humor, as it’s typically quite close to my own Scots-Irish family’s dark silliness and ridiculous word play. I enjoyed his first memoir ages ago and was impressed by its depth and thoughtfulness. I picked his latest book up on audio last week, thinking it would be a nice distraction for the week before a major surgery, a good antidote for the worrying wanderings of my brain. This one claims to be a collection of essays about various things, not strictly another m I love Craig Ferguson’s sense of humor, as it’s typically quite close to my own Scots-Irish family’s dark silliness and ridiculous word play. I enjoyed his first memoir ages ago and was impressed by its depth and thoughtfulness. I picked his latest book up on audio last week, thinking it would be a nice distraction for the week before a major surgery, a good antidote for the worrying wanderings of my brain. This one claims to be a collection of essays about various things, not strictly another memoir, and I really needed to laugh. I didn’t expect to be deeply moved as well. He’s a wonderful narrator and I’m sure that helps many of the stories land truer and funnier than they may, I suspect, read on the page, but it’s not just the narration that impresses. These are essays about life seen from a significant mid-point. Lessons of loss and losing, long-time sobriety, friendship, long-time love, disappointment and forgiveness, all figure in around the expected humor, and are communicated with depth and beauty and a refreshing simplicity. I expected to laugh and I hoped to be distracted for a few hours. I didn’t expect to feel so thoughtful and satisfied at the end. (It’s a 3- star book but the last chapter is exquisite.)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    I'm a great fan of Craig Ferguson--I loved his late late night talk show, even in its last few years when he was clearly sick of it and just putting in the time. He has already written one memoir (American on Purpose) and this one covers a lot of the same ground, perhaps a little less entertainingly. He's had a very hard life, but is apparently in a pretty good place now, and is deeply devoted to his wife and two sons. I kept hearing his Scottish accent as I read. He reports at one point that in I'm a great fan of Craig Ferguson--I loved his late late night talk show, even in its last few years when he was clearly sick of it and just putting in the time. He has already written one memoir (American on Purpose) and this one covers a lot of the same ground, perhaps a little less entertainingly. He's had a very hard life, but is apparently in a pretty good place now, and is deeply devoted to his wife and two sons. I kept hearing his Scottish accent as I read. He reports at one point that in nine years he never missed a show on late night, even when he had shingles. He remarks that shingles is an incredibly painful malady, but he hears there is a vaccine, "...and I'd strongly advise you to get it unless you are an anti-vaxxer, in which case you deserve shingles, you dozy bastard."

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gail Sacharski

    I love Craig Ferguson & have for many years. I've watched his late night show (many times sacrificing sleep to stay up to see it), seen movies in which he had parts and/or wrote the screenplay, enjoyed his voicework in animated movies, but I've never read any of his books. This was a first & I really liked it. His humor is wonderful, his honesty refreshing, his stories fascinating & revealing. I am happy he has found love & sobriety, yet hasn't lost his edge. I could have read on & on if there w I love Craig Ferguson & have for many years. I've watched his late night show (many times sacrificing sleep to stay up to see it), seen movies in which he had parts and/or wrote the screenplay, enjoyed his voicework in animated movies, but I've never read any of his books. This was a first & I really liked it. His humor is wonderful, his honesty refreshing, his stories fascinating & revealing. I am happy he has found love & sobriety, yet hasn't lost his edge. I could have read on & on if there were more & will seek out more of his writing. Superb!

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