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How Did I Get Here?: A Memoir

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From his hardscrabble post-World War II Ontario childhood and coming of age to Mad Men-era New York City and the creative pinnacle of advertising, to the hallowed halls of Saturday Night Live and The New Yorker, Bruce McCall's personal and creative journey is stunningly honest, bittersweet, and, above all, inspiring. Beloved for his strikingly original and wickedly percept From his hardscrabble post-World War II Ontario childhood and coming of age to Mad Men-era New York City and the creative pinnacle of advertising, to the hallowed halls of Saturday Night Live and The New Yorker, Bruce McCall's personal and creative journey is stunningly honest, bittersweet, and, above all, inspiring. Beloved for his strikingly original and wickedly perceptive New Yorker covers, as well as his many Shouts and Murmurs, Bruce is a rare double threat as an artist and writer. Self-taught in both disciplines, his artistic world has captured the imagination of a loyal fan base that includes no less than David Letterman (whom he coauthored a book with) and other satire aficionados. Pulling no punches, How Did I Get Here? chronicles the evolution of his artistic genius as well as his journey from gifted childhood scribbler to passionate automobile enthusiast, a hobby that took him to the heights of the Detroit and Manhattan advertising worlds. His long-held passion for drawing and writing, which mostly lay dormant during his Mad Men days, reemerged later in life as he left the realm of advertising for the world of arts and letters, most notably at the National Lampoon, as a writer for Saturday Night Live in its first incarnation, and then of course at The New Yorker, as well as other Conde Nast magazines, such as Vanity Fair. His is an unorthodox life and career path, traversing through worlds that have now become iconic, giving us rich first-hand insight into Bruce's unique creative development and process, and providing a rare window into both the highs and the lows that define an artist's career and life. With wit, candor, and cover illustrations showcasing Bruce's storied career, Bruce McCall's memoir will charm his many fans and anyone who knows and loves the places and eras he describes so well.


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From his hardscrabble post-World War II Ontario childhood and coming of age to Mad Men-era New York City and the creative pinnacle of advertising, to the hallowed halls of Saturday Night Live and The New Yorker, Bruce McCall's personal and creative journey is stunningly honest, bittersweet, and, above all, inspiring. Beloved for his strikingly original and wickedly percept From his hardscrabble post-World War II Ontario childhood and coming of age to Mad Men-era New York City and the creative pinnacle of advertising, to the hallowed halls of Saturday Night Live and The New Yorker, Bruce McCall's personal and creative journey is stunningly honest, bittersweet, and, above all, inspiring. Beloved for his strikingly original and wickedly perceptive New Yorker covers, as well as his many Shouts and Murmurs, Bruce is a rare double threat as an artist and writer. Self-taught in both disciplines, his artistic world has captured the imagination of a loyal fan base that includes no less than David Letterman (whom he coauthored a book with) and other satire aficionados. Pulling no punches, How Did I Get Here? chronicles the evolution of his artistic genius as well as his journey from gifted childhood scribbler to passionate automobile enthusiast, a hobby that took him to the heights of the Detroit and Manhattan advertising worlds. His long-held passion for drawing and writing, which mostly lay dormant during his Mad Men days, reemerged later in life as he left the realm of advertising for the world of arts and letters, most notably at the National Lampoon, as a writer for Saturday Night Live in its first incarnation, and then of course at The New Yorker, as well as other Conde Nast magazines, such as Vanity Fair. His is an unorthodox life and career path, traversing through worlds that have now become iconic, giving us rich first-hand insight into Bruce's unique creative development and process, and providing a rare window into both the highs and the lows that define an artist's career and life. With wit, candor, and cover illustrations showcasing Bruce's storied career, Bruce McCall's memoir will charm his many fans and anyone who knows and loves the places and eras he describes so well.

30 review for How Did I Get Here?: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Candace

    I’ll be honest I had no idea who this way until I decided to listen to this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Polly

    Why this autobiography is called a memoir, I don't know, since it starts with McCall's early childhood and goes all the way through to his present life as a cover artist and writer for the New Yorker magazine. Perhaps because the focus of the memoir lasers in on his development as an artist and writer. Or perhaps because it is about his avoidance of putting both talents on the line and instead hiding in the advertising world because he didn't believe he was brilliant enough at either. Mccall spe Why this autobiography is called a memoir, I don't know, since it starts with McCall's early childhood and goes all the way through to his present life as a cover artist and writer for the New Yorker magazine. Perhaps because the focus of the memoir lasers in on his development as an artist and writer. Or perhaps because it is about his avoidance of putting both talents on the line and instead hiding in the advertising world because he didn't believe he was brilliant enough at either. Mccall spent 40 years in advertising, if not wasted, because of this poor self-regard for his own talents. But isn't that familiar to so many of us artists/writers? He writes, "If you ignore the value of your calling out of fear regardless of what kind of fear it is, our greatest fears will likely come true. You will abandon your true calling. For most of my life I felt a lack of connection lack of connection...but in the years it took to get here, working alone in my studio, I felt a greater sense of connection than I had in all my life, to the world at large and to myself as an artist." I can relate as I work on stories I either give up submitting, or don't even bother to. McCall reminds me to keep trying.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Janet Graham

    Fascinating Memoir of a Fascinating Life What an interesting story! This guy has been through some unique things in his life. He has rubbed elbows with the greats and became great himself. I loved reading this book. While I did not recognize the author's name, I absolutely recognized his work. He lists some of the artists that impressed him, I looked them up and love them all. While some of his early life sounds horrible, it was common for those of us living in those years to be brought up that w Fascinating Memoir of a Fascinating Life What an interesting story! This guy has been through some unique things in his life. He has rubbed elbows with the greats and became great himself. I loved reading this book. While I did not recognize the author's name, I absolutely recognized his work. He lists some of the artists that impressed him, I looked them up and love them all. While some of his early life sounds horrible, it was common for those of us living in those years to be brought up that way. He gives a fascinating account of being a cog in the wheel of big advertising companies. He also has some great tidbits like the origin of the original Cannonball Run. His writing for The National Lampoon Radio Hour and the budding comics who were soon to start up Saturday Night Live was very cool. I received this ARC book for free from Net Galley and this is my honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Duygu

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It is a great book to learn about the world of art in New York starting around 70s up until now. For fans of New Yorker it gives a glimpse of the New Yorker people and how they operate as well as some references to wonderful covers over the years. I loved the conclusion Bruce McCall (and many other wise men and women) arrives about following one’s calling. The significance of this book compared to others is that he has not followed his calling for decades and worked away at many (“respectable”) It is a great book to learn about the world of art in New York starting around 70s up until now. For fans of New Yorker it gives a glimpse of the New Yorker people and how they operate as well as some references to wonderful covers over the years. I loved the conclusion Bruce McCall (and many other wise men and women) arrives about following one’s calling. The significance of this book compared to others is that he has not followed his calling for decades and worked away at many (“respectable”) corporate positions even though he did not enjoy one bit. The reason was both financial and his idea of an artist that resembles anything but him. If you are someone wondering what would happen if you cannot make up your mind about leaving a safe job to become an artist because you are too scared of the financial consequences, this book tells you exactly what happened to Bruce McCall.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael Martin

    Bruce McCall’s memoir “How Did I Get Here?” was a frustrating and disappointing read. I have been a fan of McCall’s humorous illustrations since my first exposure to them in The National Lampoon. That’s probably why I question a not-very-interesting biography that takes 215 pages (of 270 total) before it even gets to the Lampoon, SNL and The New Yorker. Then once it gets there, the material is sparse and rather dull. The book actually ends with poorly written paragraphs that describe his favorit Bruce McCall’s memoir “How Did I Get Here?” was a frustrating and disappointing read. I have been a fan of McCall’s humorous illustrations since my first exposure to them in The National Lampoon. That’s probably why I question a not-very-interesting biography that takes 215 pages (of 270 total) before it even gets to the Lampoon, SNL and The New Yorker. Then once it gets there, the material is sparse and rather dull. The book actually ends with poorly written paragraphs that describe his favorite New Yorker covers. Perhaps just SHOW them? Even worse is the uninteresting material about working in ad agencies on automotive accounts. This is what makes up most of the book, and it is deathly dull.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    I don't read many memoirs but I've always admired the author's New Yorker covers because of the satire. This memoir was a sad explanation of how his skepticism was engendered by parental neglect. Many readers may think his bitter tirades against his father particularly are overdone. However I have worked with lots of people who experienced childhood emotional neglect (CEN) and it's clear society has little idea of how deeply wounding that is throughout life. It is a remarkable achievement on McC I don't read many memoirs but I've always admired the author's New Yorker covers because of the satire. This memoir was a sad explanation of how his skepticism was engendered by parental neglect. Many readers may think his bitter tirades against his father particularly are overdone. However I have worked with lots of people who experienced childhood emotional neglect (CEN) and it's clear society has little idea of how deeply wounding that is throughout life. It is a remarkable achievement on McCall's part to cope with the strong self criticism, poor emotional awareness and death of meaningful relationships that is common with CEN.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    Autobiographical story of Bruce McCall growing up in a dysfunctional family , not finishing high school but going on to become a skilled advertising commercial artist and beating the odds - a sad account of his ne’er do well parents and their neglect of their children especially their twin sons. One wonders the how and why of such irresponsible behavior but it iis an all too common occurrence. In this world. Bruce McCall was born in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada so there is an interesting of Canadians Autobiographical story of Bruce McCall growing up in a dysfunctional family , not finishing high school but going on to become a skilled advertising commercial artist and beating the odds - a sad account of his ne’er do well parents and their neglect of their children especially their twin sons. One wonders the how and why of such irresponsible behavior but it iis an all too common occurrence. In this world. Bruce McCall was born in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada so there is an interesting of Canadians and the competition between the two countries.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    McCall is a crisp writer and a dandy illustrator. That being said, his ruminating about his personal “failures” such as not fitting in with the SNL crowd, are torture. During one iteration of his life as an ad man, he visits Stuttgart for a comprehensive tour of Mercedes Benz factories. He describes being bored to tears by the sheer volume of factoids. I feel somewhat like this in reading his book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Phil Hurwitz

    His perseverance in the face of unloving parents is remarkable; and his lack of interest in what made his parents tick, is understandable. It was an average read for me. I do not share the enthusiasm of those artists who praised this book on the back jacket cover.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joe Bellew

    To be honest, I couldn’t get through even the first chapter. And even before that, I gave up on the Intro, hoping things would get better once the story begins. The author is clever, no doubt. I just wasn’t interested.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Siobhan

    Lovely.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jane Mylrea

    Very interesting memoir about Canadian artist/writer. He never went to college, unloved by parents. One of six kids. Auto writer, ad man, and finally New Yorker satirist and artist.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Miranda Dickson

    witty and funny but wasn’t super interested with most of the topics discussed

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karissa

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bob Chan

  16. 4 out of 5

    Craig

  17. 4 out of 5

    Steve McCarthy

  18. 5 out of 5

    Richard B Peacock

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ted Matthews

  20. 4 out of 5

    Maurice Tougas

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Murphy

  22. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

  23. 5 out of 5

    Janet Oconnor

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chris Elkjar

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ray

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ian Woodworth

  27. 4 out of 5

    jennet wheatstonelllsl

  28. 5 out of 5

    Linda

  29. 5 out of 5

    John

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lukas Novotny

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