Comedy at the Edge by Richard Zoglin

Fittingly, I finished reading this book the day before George Carlin died. I had a lot of respect for Carlin as an innovater in the world of comedy, and it was a pleasure to read about his beginnings on the comedy circuit in the '70's here.

Although I do not agree that the subtitle "How Stand-Up in the 1970's Changed America" is a suitable one. Simply because I don't think the way the author lays out the text that he sufficiently makes a case for America to have changed as a result of the genre of stand-up played out its role. With one exception, the acceptance of harsher language that got predecessors such as Lenny Bruce in trouble became more accepted with the rise of George Carlin and Richard Pryor.

I do like the fact that the author centers on one particular person in each chapter (Carlin in chapter 1, Pryor in chapter 2) rather than just ramble over a particular subject and play it out through several comedians. Not every chapter is devoted to a comedian, however. One or two are devoted to behind-the-scenes people, including the comedy theater owners of the day.

If you are an afficianado of comedy from the time, you will enjoy some of the reminiscing that will be elicited from this work.

I rate this one 7½ stars.


Mr. Monk Goes to Germany by Lee Goldberg

I do believe our boy, Lee Goldberg, is finally getting his chops at writing novels, at least the ones based on the Monk TV series. Of all the books in the series that I have read so far, this one had the least feel of a "movie novelization" style of writing. I didn't realize until I started reading this new one that that was one of the things that was really bothering me about the series.

Not only is Mr. Goldberg getting better at writing, he has picked a real winner here for a story. The plot involves Monk going bananas after his personal psychiatrist, Dr. Kroger, has taken off for the uncharted territory (for Monk) of Europe, specifically Germany. Since he is unable to function without Dr. Kroger, he manages to get to Germany where, after surprising his doctor, he also gets involved in another murder.

Also thrown into the mix is a six-fingered man which, if you watch the TV show, know was the disfigurement of the man who hired the bomber that killed Trudy Monk, Monk's wife. Why is he in Germany? Well. you'll have to read it to find out.

I'm giving this particular novel 9 stars.