Friday, February 26, 2010

"Too Fat To Fish" - Book Review


(This review originally appeared as a post on The Thursday Night Movie Club Message Board Sept 7, 2009)

I've been reading an unusually large amount of books this summer -- probably due to the fact that since the NY Times decided to hike the price of their Sunday edition to a whopping $5, I've broken a long - standing personal tradition of making it my weekly purchase. That said, I recently finished another book, "Too Fat To Fish", the autobiography of stand - up comedian and actor Artie Lange, a member of the on - air team of Howard Stern's radio show for almost eight years now.

At nearly 42, Lange's life probably is best described by the quote often attributed to the late ex - Yankee great Mickey Mantle: "If I'd known I was going to live this long, I would've taken better care of myself". In this book, Lange openly details his various substance abuses -- from alcohol, to pills, to all kinds of drugs: starting with marijuana, moving to cocaine, food and eventually, "graduating" to heroin -- an addiction he still battles to this day by taking Subutex and making regular visits to a shrink.

Lange attributes his substance abuse issues to an accident his father had when Lange was a teenager -- attempting to install a television antenna, his father fell off the roof and severely injured himself, resulting in him being a quadriplegic for the remainder of his life (he succumbed to various complications in his mid - 40's). He reasons his alcohol/drug addiction as a way of self - medicating to help him deal with his father's accident -- he blames himself for the tragedy because he was usually around to assist his father on these types of jobs, but on this one fateful day, he was not present to hold the ladder steady.

While a great number of Stern's loyal, lemmings - like fans probably have an immensely empathic response to Lange's tribulations, I found it increasingly difficult to do so the further I got into this book. Although there are a great many humorous stories interspersed throughout, I can't help but feel that Lange is glamorizing his various substance abuse issues by implicitly declaring, "Look at me! I got away with doing all of this crazy shit and still I'm successful!".

This book is only a must - read for hard - core "Sternies" -- and even then, you have to wonder how many will actually drink the Kool - Aid? Apparently Lange would -- but only if it's laced with something a bit more potent.