I do not usually read celebrity biographies. The last one I read was a memoir by Lauren Bacall which I enjoyed sometime in the 1980’s. But Tom Farley is a neighbor, and his son is my son’s friend, so this book came to our house and I started reading it because it was sitting on my kitchen counter. I am happy to say that I was immediately engrossed. The book is a collection of memories of the late comedian Chris Farley, arranged chronologically. Tom Farley (Chris’s older brother) and his co-author Tanner Colby interviewed dozens of people who were close to Chris (family members and friends, both famous and not famous) and strung the bits together to form a coherent portrait of his life. Interspersed between the quotes are brief factual sections that provide some background, but most of the story is told through the voices of those who were interviewed. The structure works very well to keep the story personal and immediate, but still move the action forward.
This book is very sad. Farley’s downward spiral through alcoholism and drug abuse was frighteningly intense. The authors do not sugarcoat or excuse Farley’s behavior and several members of the Farley family and Chris Farley’s immediate circle are open about their own feelings of guilt and failed responsibility. Together all the memories form a collage that I think must accurately reflect Chris Farley’s tortured brilliance. If all celebrity biographies were this good I would read more of them.
(Book 18, 2008)