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Suspense, excess, danger and exuberant fun come together in Chuck Barris' unlikely autobiography -- the tale of a wildly flamboyant 1970s television producer, better known as the infamous host of The Gong Show. What most people don't know is that Barris allegedly spent close to two decades as a decorated covert assassin for the CIA.Barris, who achieved tremendous success a Suspense, excess, danger and exuberant fun come together in Chuck Barris' unlikely autobiography -- the tale of a wildly flamboyant 1970s television producer, better known as the infamous host of The Gong Show. What most people don't know is that Barris allegedly spent close to two decades as a decorated covert assassin for the CIA.Barris, who achieved tremendous success as the creator and producer of hit TV game shows such as The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game, claims to have joined the CIA as an agent in the early 1960s, infiltrated the Civil Rights movement, met with militant Muslims in Harlem, and traveled abroad in order to kill enemies of the United States.Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is now a movie directed by and starring George Clooney, with Sam Rockwell as the author, but the original story is wild and gripping, spiced with intrigue, sex, bad behavior and plenty of great one-liners. It is destined to become a classic.


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Suspense, excess, danger and exuberant fun come together in Chuck Barris' unlikely autobiography -- the tale of a wildly flamboyant 1970s television producer, better known as the infamous host of The Gong Show. What most people don't know is that Barris allegedly spent close to two decades as a decorated covert assassin for the CIA.Barris, who achieved tremendous success a Suspense, excess, danger and exuberant fun come together in Chuck Barris' unlikely autobiography -- the tale of a wildly flamboyant 1970s television producer, better known as the infamous host of The Gong Show. What most people don't know is that Barris allegedly spent close to two decades as a decorated covert assassin for the CIA.Barris, who achieved tremendous success as the creator and producer of hit TV game shows such as The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game, claims to have joined the CIA as an agent in the early 1960s, infiltrated the Civil Rights movement, met with militant Muslims in Harlem, and traveled abroad in order to kill enemies of the United States.Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is now a movie directed by and starring George Clooney, with Sam Rockwell as the author, but the original story is wild and gripping, spiced with intrigue, sex, bad behavior and plenty of great one-liners. It is destined to become a classic.

30 review for Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    A complete fraud! Or is it? Yes, it has to be! Doesn't it? Who's to say if the super tall tales Barris lays down in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind are real? Like him or not, the man was a real entertainer. He knew what the people wanted and he gave it to them. But one wonders if while sitting around bored at his ABC Studios security guard gig cooking up ideas that would eventually turn into hit television shows like The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game and the Gong Show, perhaps Barris was also co A complete fraud! Or is it? Yes, it has to be! Doesn't it? Who's to say if the super tall tales Barris lays down in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind are real? Like him or not, the man was a real entertainer. He knew what the people wanted and he gave it to them. But one wonders if while sitting around bored at his ABC Studios security guard gig cooking up ideas that would eventually turn into hit television shows like The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game and the Gong Show, perhaps Barris was also cooking up an alter ego, a James Bond daydream persona that could lift him out of his humdrum existence. When ambitious nobodies get a notion the wings of their imagination can fly it to incredible heights. Real or not, Barris' spy stories, while made-for-the-big-screen in tone and content, are fun to read. And I will also say this for the book, it's a quick read! Not just page-wise brevity, but rather the pacing. Just like in his Gong Show days, ol' Chucky baby knows how to keep the show moving. Was it worth reading? Well, I don't know if I'd recommend it. Personally, I read it because I felt I owed him one. When I was a wee lad, Chuck Barris' tv shows entertained the heck out of me. Watching adults make fools out of themselves on the Gong Show cracked me up to no end! So even though I knew it wasn't going to be a great piece of literature, I had to read it...just to see what the old entertainer still had up his sleeves.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    A week ago, I happene to catch a little-known movie called "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" -- George Clooney's directoral debut. The movie also had Julia Roberts and Drew Barrymore in it, and although I'm not a movie-goer, I was surprised I had never heard of it. Then I realized that it was based on the "autobiography" of Chuck Barris, creator of "The Dating Game", "The Newlywed Game," and "The Gong Show" among others. Being a child of the 1970s, I remembered those games fondly, and watched th A week ago, I happene to catch a little-known movie called "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" -- George Clooney's directoral debut. The movie also had Julia Roberts and Drew Barrymore in it, and although I'm not a movie-goer, I was surprised I had never heard of it. Then I realized that it was based on the "autobiography" of Chuck Barris, creator of "The Dating Game", "The Newlywed Game," and "The Gong Show" among others. Being a child of the 1970s, I remembered those games fondly, and watched the movie, which was so entertaining, and fun, and thought-provoking. I found the book that the movie was based on in the library, and read the whole thing in one evening. All I can say is WOW. This book is a wild romp through the life, real or imagined, of one of the most famous television producers in the 1960s and 1970s, and is not just Hollywood or LA, but tells about Barris's "secret double life" -- as a hired assassin for the Central Intelligence Agency. Yes, THAT CIA. Part Hollywood tell-all, part spy thriller, but wholly entertaining and quickly read. Is is true? Who cares?! It is so much fun! (Rated R for sex and language and violence)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marvin

    Was Chuck Barris, creator of The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game and The Gong Show actually a hit man for the CIA? Stranger things have occurred. After all, Julia Childs was a CIA agent but she never killed anyone...I think. I wonder if Valerie Plame ever offed someone? I think it is safe to say Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is purely fiction or, at the most, a figment of Barris' manically creative mind. The surprising thing is that it is a very funny book with the type of humor you would expect Was Chuck Barris, creator of The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game and The Gong Show actually a hit man for the CIA? Stranger things have occurred. After all, Julia Childs was a CIA agent but she never killed anyone...I think. I wonder if Valerie Plame ever offed someone? I think it is safe to say Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is purely fiction or, at the most, a figment of Barris' manically creative mind. The surprising thing is that it is a very funny book with the type of humor you would expect from someone like Woody Allen. If Chuck Barris actually wrote this book, which is a huge IF when it comes to celebrity books, he displays a wry wit about not only his fictitious CIA capers but also his more factual experiences as TV's most successful, and hated, producer. His exploits are both boastful and self-deprecating as he describes his success after two years in TV as achieving "My first prime-time special,my second automobile...and my tenth pregnant girl-friend". The author clearly had a lot of fun with this but I think he was also trying to "out" his own conflictual existence in the dog-eat-dog television industry by disguising it as a fantasy espionage thriller. And if nothing else, he did bring The Popsicle Twins to prime-time TV.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Marti

    It's hard to review this because it was enjoyable even if I am fairly positive Barris was never a hit-man for the CIA. Those parts were neverthless entertaining because it served as a vehicle for him to mock WASP culture. As a Jewish kid from Philadelphia, I can understand why he reviled the whole "preppie" thing, and hated people who "speak with exclamation points." However, I can't figure out if anything in this book is actually true. For instance, he says he went to U. Penn, when I know he we It's hard to review this because it was enjoyable even if I am fairly positive Barris was never a hit-man for the CIA. Those parts were neverthless entertaining because it served as a vehicle for him to mock WASP culture. As a Jewish kid from Philadelphia, I can understand why he reviled the whole "preppie" thing, and hated people who "speak with exclamation points." However, I can't figure out if anything in this book is actually true. For instance, he says he went to U. Penn, when I know he went to Drexel. And did he really join the march to Selma? Needless to say, I would have preferred a more straight forward narrative of his life because it would have been even funnier. For a guy who was widely reviled as the "King of Schlock," he seems to be able to trot out a lot of highbrow literary references. It's clear that he had some sort of Dadaist vision for the Gong Show which is why he had to host it himself. The original host that he hired refused to understand that this was not a serious hunt for talent. The idea was to let dregs of Hollywood do their acts on national television in order to provoke some sort of reaction from "straight" society. It turned out to be a huge hit. I will have to really make a point to see the movie now because there is a lot of material here for the kind of satire that is long gone. However, it will not pass muster with the #MeToo movement. It is what it is...ie. Hollywood in the 1960s/70s.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Will

    Ladies and gentlemen...I'd like to introduce to you Mr. Chuck Barris, ladies and gentlemen: pop-song one-hit wonder writer, lothario, creator of numerous hit TV game shows, host of the skewed variety show The Gong Show, wearer of many goofy hats, living national joke, and...according to this debatable tell-all from the 70's, also a government hit-man. Written so conversationally, constructed so flawlessly - at the time it was first published this fantastical yarn couldn't be proven nor dis-prove Ladies and gentlemen...I'd like to introduce to you Mr. Chuck Barris, ladies and gentlemen: pop-song one-hit wonder writer, lothario, creator of numerous hit TV game shows, host of the skewed variety show The Gong Show, wearer of many goofy hats, living national joke, and...according to this debatable tell-all from the 70's, also a government hit-man. Written so conversationally, constructed so flawlessly - at the time it was first published this fantastical yarn couldn't be proven nor dis-proven, albeit it's incredible implausability. It just had to be taken for the wonderful mystery it was. Even though now we can pretty much rule out the whole hit-man thing (a later memoir didn't really bring it up), this book still stands as a wildly amusing perfectly metaphorical memoir where Barris took his persecution frustration from the people who said he was responsible for the dumbing down of our wonderful nation via network television and confessed to things they'd really be disgusted at - actually killing some of the American and International public, not just dumbing them down. Angry, searching, thoughtful, silly, and always amusing. I love this book and Chuck Barris and silly hats with all of my heart of hearts.

  6. 4 out of 5

    RB Love

    I finished the book this morning and then watched the movie, (made from a Charlie Kaufman screenplay adaptation) tonight after the Super Bowl. I can tell you that the film was a lot more edgy, dark and less fun than the book. Although both representations are meritorious. I've come to idolize Chuck Barris since I read You and Me, Babe years ago. The whole thing is an interesting read what with the whole fantasy about Chuckie Baby doubling as a CIA assassin. But, Barris' real life stuff is what f I finished the book this morning and then watched the movie, (made from a Charlie Kaufman screenplay adaptation) tonight after the Super Bowl. I can tell you that the film was a lot more edgy, dark and less fun than the book. Although both representations are meritorious. I've come to idolize Chuck Barris since I read You and Me, Babe years ago. The whole thing is an interesting read what with the whole fantasy about Chuckie Baby doubling as a CIA assassin. But, Barris' real life stuff is what fascinates me most. "Palisades Park" then crazy television success into his current status as a writer. At the end of the film, the camera intimates on the then septuagenarian Barris' face while Sam Rockwell's voice over tells of an edifying new game show Barris has thought up. That stays with you in a way the book does not. From the film you are left wishing that Chuck Barris could just appreciate what he did and what a spectacular life he's led and that, critics be damned, he did make worthwhile hilarity on tv, he did buck the system and he seemed to have more laughs than anyone else. Reading the book, you get a sense that maybe he did know some of those things.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is actually two mediocre books, one non-fiction book in which Chuck Barris recounts his life as a game show producer and the other, a bad spy novel. If Barris had focused on the first book, it could have been great—a fun read. The only really interesting and engaging parts of this book are those sections that deal with the game shows, the rest doesn't even pass as believable fiction. What little fact checking on his personal life and his supposed work for the CIA Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is actually two mediocre books, one non-fiction book in which Chuck Barris recounts his life as a game show producer and the other, a bad spy novel. If Barris had focused on the first book, it could have been great—a fun read. The only really interesting and engaging parts of this book are those sections that deal with the game shows, the rest doesn't even pass as believable fiction. What little fact checking on his personal life and his supposed work for the CIA I did turn up nothing to verify what he'd written. Even the accounts of his personal life were fictionalized and bore little resemblance to his real life.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Taylor

    While this book had an okay story I can't take any of it seriously. UPDATE: Watched the movie....didn't make the story any better. I seriously think Mr. Barris was suffering from some real mental health issues. While this book had an okay story I can't take any of it seriously. UPDATE: Watched the movie....didn't make the story any better. I seriously think Mr. Barris was suffering from some real mental health issues.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jeff P

    This isn't the most well written book I've ever read, but I enjoyed it anyway. It is supposed to be an autobiography and reads more like fiction. As you might expect from the creator of TV shows The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game and The Gong Show it was kind of crude in many places, but still funny. The CIA has denied the claim that Barris was a CIA hitman, but he shares enough about producing those TV shows that it makes you wonder if he might be telling some truth about his secret life too. This isn't the most well written book I've ever read, but I enjoyed it anyway. It is supposed to be an autobiography and reads more like fiction. As you might expect from the creator of TV shows The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game and The Gong Show it was kind of crude in many places, but still funny. The CIA has denied the claim that Barris was a CIA hitman, but he shares enough about producing those TV shows that it makes you wonder if he might be telling some truth about his secret life too.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nourhan Elkafrawy

    chuck barris fuck you!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bob Schnell

    I very much enjoyed the parts about Chuck Barris creating game shows such as the Dating Game and the Gong Show. The parts about him being a CIA assassin were less enjoyable.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kate McDougall Sackler

    I’m not even sure how to describe this sort-of autobiography by The Gong Show’s Chuck Barris. It seems it is more of an imagined, if I had joined the CIA...what would my life have been like, book. That being said, this is a misogynistic, sexist, derogatory rant from an insecure, self-involved, misunderstood sleazeball with a soft heart. It had parts that were truly funny. I did laugh out loud. I also wanted to punch him a lot.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    This may be the most bizarre book I've ever read. A well-respected writer friend gave it to me as a present, so I muddled through the beginning. By the middle of the book, I was rubberneck reading--the book was such a catastrophe I couldn't look away. Where to begin with everything that's wrong with this memoir? Well, we can begin with the biggest, most-obvious flaw: an utter lack of true self-awareness, half-masked by an awareness of the lack of self-awareness. Reading the words of someone who This may be the most bizarre book I've ever read. A well-respected writer friend gave it to me as a present, so I muddled through the beginning. By the middle of the book, I was rubberneck reading--the book was such a catastrophe I couldn't look away. Where to begin with everything that's wrong with this memoir? Well, we can begin with the biggest, most-obvious flaw: an utter lack of true self-awareness, half-masked by an awareness of the lack of self-awareness. Reading the words of someone who is aware they don't know themselves but is too lazy to dig deeper is one of the saddest experiences you can have as a memoir-reader. I feel awkward for Barris. It's like he's on his own Gong Show, and he thinks it's ironic, but actually everyone is laughing at his sub-par performance as a writer. And that's what this book is: sub par. It's neither a good memoir nor a good CIA thriller nor a historical overview of television culture (although it aspires to be the first two things and doesn't really attempt the third). Chuck Barris clearly has had an interesting life, and could have easily written a celebrity memoir. He decides (I'm guessing) that most celebrity memoirs are boring (that's correct), but he assumes (I'm guessing) that celebrity memoirs are boring because they don't have enough shoot-em-up action (that's wrong - just read the memoirs of Julia Child or Patti Smith). Celebrity memoirs are boring because celebrities aren't writers, and even writer-writers struggle with memoir. Memoir is f***ing hard. It takes years. It takes self-knowledge. It takes a poet's mastery of the language to do well. Making up bogus stuff won't help the plot in memoir the way it will in fiction - in fact it will blow up in your face and make you look deranged. Barris seems like a smart guy (and he's certainly a hard worker) so it's strange that he took the easy way out with this. The dilemma of achieving success only to be hated for it is a real human dilemma that everyone can relate to, not just celebrities. But instead of realizing this, Barris goes for gimmicks: The CIA crap (which I can't tell would be worse if it's true or false - if true, he has serious unresolved issues, if false he has serious unresolved issues), the misogyny, the racism. At one point he actually makes fun of a female game-show-contestant for being raped. Yikes! Barris occasionally drops in telling lines from his critics, who accuse him of being a woman-hater. He indicates that these critiques bother him so much they give him diarrhea (poop joke! bad-dum-bum!), then does a narrative shrug, and barrels right back into his misogynist autobiography. It's so....weird! Weird, weird, weird. I will say this: Given our current obsession with truth in memoir, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a resurgence of interest in this memoir. But I find it to raise that question in the most pedestrian way possible, almost as a trick, a big f-u to his readers. Maybe the next Chuck Barris-like memoirist will just put a squirt gun within the covers of his book, so when you open it you get blasted in the face. That's about the level this is on.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Thomas McBryde

    So unbelievable I totally believe it! I LOVED THIS BOOK! It goes down as one of my all time favorites, in part because it so zany and so hard to believe. The premise is that Chuck Barris, the creator of such cheesy game shows, like The Gong Show, was actually a CIA hitman and the whole time his TV show personae was a front. I know, if you're like me right now your saying "what the hell?" I know I still am as well. The book reads as a memoir and a Mea Culpa as Barris confesses to murdering dozens So unbelievable I totally believe it! I LOVED THIS BOOK! It goes down as one of my all time favorites, in part because it so zany and so hard to believe. The premise is that Chuck Barris, the creator of such cheesy game shows, like The Gong Show, was actually a CIA hitman and the whole time his TV show personae was a front. I know, if you're like me right now your saying "what the hell?" I know I still am as well. The book reads as a memoir and a Mea Culpa as Barris confesses to murdering dozens of people in the name of his country. He explains how by sheer luck he met a CIA handler who recruited him as an asset. Its discovered that Barris had a natural affinity for this type of thing and as time goes on he becomes a spy and contract killer. Barris' first love was always television and entertaining. While is contracting with the CIA he also is trying to get a TV idea picked up and he does! So now he is on TV and assassination people! He goes on to explain that the reason one of his shows, the dating game, began sending people overseas for winning is because he was doing clandestine missions in Berlin. The crazy thing when asked to deny his involvement with the CIA, the CIA said nothing! Now I don't know how much I believe, but this is America we are the land of unbelievable!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

    I doubt Barris' story. His account of the recruitment process sounds way too random, and he comes off as unstable. The circumstances of the hits sound unlikely, and almost everybody he mentions who might be able to corroborate or debunk his stories are dead. Besides, one of the surest signs somebody does NOT work for the CIA is when they claim they do. Barris comes across as a pretty unpleasant human. To his credit he doesn't rationalize or blame others. He has a picture in the book of one of the C I doubt Barris' story. His account of the recruitment process sounds way too random, and he comes off as unstable. The circumstances of the hits sound unlikely, and almost everybody he mentions who might be able to corroborate or debunk his stories are dead. Besides, one of the surest signs somebody does NOT work for the CIA is when they claim they do. Barris comes across as a pretty unpleasant human. To his credit he doesn't rationalize or blame others. He has a picture in the book of one of the CIA guys he says he worked with. If he's willing to burn a guy for no particular reason, he's either a world-class @hole or a nut. Now I want to figure out whether Barris might be credible or or if he's delusional. My bet is the latter, but what do I know?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

    The idea of the host of The Gong Show actually being a secret agent and Barris actually playing it completely straight the whole time sounds a lot more intriguing than it actually ends up being on paper. Given how outrageous a claim he's making, I expected the story to be more, well, outrageous. The idea of the host of The Gong Show actually being a secret agent and Barris actually playing it completely straight the whole time sounds a lot more intriguing than it actually ends up being on paper. Given how outrageous a claim he's making, I expected the story to be more, well, outrageous.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Snyder

    If all true, it is an incredible story and a CIA/game show creating bad ass. The shit you see about assassins and moles in the movies is for real. And once again the cliche about the book being better than the movie is true, but watch the movie anyway. I'm amazed Barris was never taken out. If all true, it is an incredible story and a CIA/game show creating bad ass. The shit you see about assassins and moles in the movies is for real. And once again the cliche about the book being better than the movie is true, but watch the movie anyway. I'm amazed Barris was never taken out.

  18. 4 out of 5

    J.C.

    A great tall tale. I almost believed him... until I read the sequel Bad Grass Never Dies.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cory Chase

    Chuck Barris is (was) out of his damned mind. But, as a child of the 70s, I have wonderful memories of his television shows. I wish reality television game shows were more like the shows of the 70s, but The Bachelor/Bachelorette and the MTV contributions would be Barris approved. This book is all over the place weaving betwixt fiction and some fact - of course, maybe it is all true - and we will probably discover he was really in the employ of the CIA in the same day we resolve the Kennedy Assas Chuck Barris is (was) out of his damned mind. But, as a child of the 70s, I have wonderful memories of his television shows. I wish reality television game shows were more like the shows of the 70s, but The Bachelor/Bachelorette and the MTV contributions would be Barris approved. This book is all over the place weaving betwixt fiction and some fact - of course, maybe it is all true - and we will probably discover he was really in the employ of the CIA in the same day we resolve the Kennedy Assassination. All in all, it is a fun ride and the 70s nostalgia is worth the trip. And yes, you can find Gong Show clips on Youtube that are mentioned here - many of the Unknown Comic, The Popsicle Twins, and Jaye P. Morgan flashing the audience. The earlier dating game outtakes in the book are incredibly funny, too. Fact, Fiction, or slightly bent truth, he's a degenerate and a great narrator to his "life". He's no saint, but who knows if he made that up as well!!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jeremiah Blackman

    This book was simultaneously entertaining and frustrating. All the game show stuff, all the CIA assassin stuff, all that was really fun. Almost any time Chuck interacts with women though, really made it hard to keep reading. And unfortunately that's a lot of the book. It's really hard to root for someone who "hopes she would get drunk so I could take advantage of her." That's about as awful as a person can be, and it's not presented with any regret or anything like that. Chuck seems to revel in h This book was simultaneously entertaining and frustrating. All the game show stuff, all the CIA assassin stuff, all that was really fun. Almost any time Chuck interacts with women though, really made it hard to keep reading. And unfortunately that's a lot of the book. It's really hard to root for someone who "hopes she would get drunk so I could take advantage of her." That's about as awful as a person can be, and it's not presented with any regret or anything like that. Chuck seems to revel in how terrible he is to women. Just enjoy the movie. The book isn't that necessary in this case

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Dull, lazy writing and wonderful turns of phrase, sometimes in the space of one paragraph. I would have given it one more round of editing. As fictionalized autobiography, it's not quite as good as Barris' "You and Me, Babe" despite the much more original premise. The real mystery isn't whether Barris was actually a CIA hit man, it's why anyone thought that part of the story might be true. Still, the more I read by and about him, the more interesting Barris gets -- certainly compared to his crit Dull, lazy writing and wonderful turns of phrase, sometimes in the space of one paragraph. I would have given it one more round of editing. As fictionalized autobiography, it's not quite as good as Barris' "You and Me, Babe" despite the much more original premise. The real mystery isn't whether Barris was actually a CIA hit man, it's why anyone thought that part of the story might be true. Still, the more I read by and about him, the more interesting Barris gets -- certainly compared to his critics.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Britta

    I want to begin by saying that I sincerely hope every word of Confessions of a Dangerous mind is true. I hope Chuck Barris really did work for the CIA, I hope he really did kill every single person he said he did, and I especially hope he did so while working on the Dating Game. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind can be loosely described as a "memoir". Despite the fact that I write mostly in nonfiction, I really don't like memoirs. To begin with, I don't think everyone deserves a memoir. I don't th I want to begin by saying that I sincerely hope every word of Confessions of a Dangerous mind is true. I hope Chuck Barris really did work for the CIA, I hope he really did kill every single person he said he did, and I especially hope he did so while working on the Dating Game. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind can be loosely described as a "memoir". Despite the fact that I write mostly in nonfiction, I really don't like memoirs. To begin with, I don't think everyone deserves a memoir. I don't think every C-list celebrity, failed politician, pill-popping suburban housewife and mother-of-sextuplets train wreck deserves a memoir. You DO deserve a memoir if you're a good writer. Chuck Barris is a damn good writer. We've all seen a Barris show at some point or another. I'm too young to really have seen, or been interested in, The Dating Game or The Newlywed Game (although we all know the famous "in the ass" punchline) but I did see--sigh--The Gong Show. Or, as I knew it, the trippiest damn thing I'd ever seen in my life. It turns out the mind behind those shows, remembered as innocuous and daft, is a brilliant writer. Barris is sharp, cynical, hilarious and shockingly sensitive. It is his narrative and writer's voice that carries Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which begins with either a monumental confession or a gigantic lie, depending on your point of view: Chuck Barris worked for the CIA. Not just "worked for" but KILLED for. "Call it patriotism," he writes, I can imagine with a sly half-smile. In a scattered but ultimately coherent narrative, Barris details his entrance into the CIA and his rise in television. The parallel stories are fun, often funny, and genuinely tense. He treats his CIA work with the same detail as he does his television shows, which is perhaps the single pity of the book. I was more interested in the politics of the networks, in the constant havoc and Barris' persistent fears about success (all sides and consequences thereof) that it was sometimes reluctantly that I returned to the assassinations. I found myself caring more about the success of The Dating Game than the murder of a Russian secret agent. The most fascinating parts of the book were the sections about negative criticism. "Negative criticism" might be putting it too lightly-- "seething hatred" might be a better term for the way critics reacted to Barris' shows. He absorbed every piece of this criticism, memorized it, and allowed it to affect him to the point of sickness ("Reading the article, I felt a surge of nausea. I began rereading until I got to the part that turned my stomach. 'Psychotic hatred of women. Systemic assassination of women. Victims skipping to the executioner's block.' I ran to the airliner's toilet."-- p. 180) I got the feeling that Confessions may have been a sort of catharsis for Barris from this criticism of his shows more so than any murder he may have ever committed or wanted to commit. 'You want to hate me,' Barris seems to say, 'fine, hate me. But hate me for something else, for being a killer. Don't hate me for trying to entertain you.' Barris' romantic exploits make up the remainder of the book, and nothing is glamorized. Barris freely admits women slept with him for his fame, and he was willing to indulge them. "Penny" is the love of his life, a kooky and sweet girl who pursues Barris for decades. Other lovers, CIA agents, cocktail waitresses, childhood friends-of-friends, come and go between the pages. The most remarkable thing about the book is that it was written. Marked for years as 'the King of Schlock' (there's an immensely uncomfortable scene in the book surrounding this phrase), Barris, by virtue of being a phenomenal writer, has taken back his legacy. With this book (and I remember distinctly when it was released), Barris has rewritten his history. No matter what has been written about you, no matter what has been said about you, no matter your successes or failures, if you're a good writer, you can control your legacy. That's a beautiful lesson, expertly illustrated, and is the ultimate message from Chuck Barris-- author first, TV host second. "The taping of The Gong Show was temporarily halted. I was standing on my mark in the center of the studio floor. As I stood there, I saw everything more distinctly than I have ever seen anything before: the lights, the people, the scenery, the floor, the band's instruments-- as if everything had been Windexed, I turned my body very slowly in a circle. I saw the stagehands behind me joking and laughing on the stage, their laughter almost deafening. I saw the three celebrity judges sitting behind their console, wisecracking and cavorting. I turned some more and saw the audience in front of me, yelling at me: "Chuckie baby! Chuckie baby!" I continued turning and saw the band on the far side of the stage, ribbing each other. Their shouts sounded like shrieks. I turned once again and found myself back where I started. I had come full circle. Everyone was having a good time-- everyone except me. My heart beat furiously. I was suffocating. "Chuckie baby! Chuckie baby!" The din grew louder and louder and louder, and my breath grew shorter and shorter. And then, suddenly, it was quiet." -- Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, p. 169

  23. 4 out of 5

    Adriana

    WHAT. THE. FLIP. IS. THIS. BOOK? I was reading it as a straight autobiography, and was even willing to believe his CIA stories, but then it got so over-the-top spy-novel crazy and INCREDIBLY sexist and cartoony, that I stopped believing. Imaginative writer, but hard to get past all the chauvinism and crassness.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Riveting! Chuck Barris's life without the CIA is interesting on its own, but add in the CIA story and it is unbelievable. Actually, it is unbelievable, but it's a great story. Stupid TV game shows, great sex, complicated relationships and assassinations add up to a fun read. All of those elements mixed together make an amusing book. Riveting! Chuck Barris's life without the CIA is interesting on its own, but add in the CIA story and it is unbelievable. Actually, it is unbelievable, but it's a great story. Stupid TV game shows, great sex, complicated relationships and assassinations add up to a fun read. All of those elements mixed together make an amusing book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    I loved the movie, so I wanted to read the book, an audiobook narrated by Chuck Barris himself. I think I would have liked it more if I read it, but it did keep me involved, and in the end I liked it. However, I liked the movie better.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Julie Bryant

    I listened to this book on tape, not sure if I caught everything but what I remembered from the movie filled in the gaps. Sad that he passed this year, I hope he felt like he lived a full life.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rich

    Interesting enough that i finished it

  28. 5 out of 5

    Steve Catanese

    I love this book with all of my heart for its concept and execution and for leaving that tiny shadow of doubt over all of its content, something we should readily do when reading "non-fiction." I love this book with all of my heart for its concept and execution and for leaving that tiny shadow of doubt over all of its content, something we should readily do when reading "non-fiction."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Russ

    Suffice it to say, the true parts about the TV shows were more interesting than the CIA assassin and ladies man fantasies.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Funny, exciting and I believe all made up but a lot of fun.

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