Furious Cool: Richard Pryor And The World That Made Him

I have told both of my children this many times over, regarding life and one’s expectations:

“All you can know for sure is that it won’t happen as you imagine it.”

No mystery as to where I learned this lesson. My life –both personally and professionally— has surprised me at every turn, in ways both disorienting and affirming. So may it ever be.

The news of the moment, shockingly and finally ready for public consumption, concerns the just-announced publication of a book this coming November, co-authored by my brother David and I. Entitled Furious Cool (Algonquin Press), it looks not only at the life of comedian Richard Pryor (with whom I became acquainted in the last years of his life, courtesy the strange journey of a song in which I adopted his character voice), but also the dark and raucous times that produced him and allowed his ascent.

I am not the one to ask, of course, but in my humble estimation the book is an appropriately sprawling mess and demanded to be, reflecting as it does upon the holy hell of a tender heart asked to walk out along a perilous high wire that happened also to be electrified.

You’ll laugh and you’ll cry, I mean to tell you.

And why shouldn’t you, if the books authors were willing to?

Love and revelation,

Joe Henry


You can pre-order the book at the following links:


Algonquin Press