Riding the Elephant: A Memoir of Altercations, Humiliations, Hallucinations, and Observations

Blue Rider:$SPACE$Penguin. May 2019. 288p. ISBN 9780525533917. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780525533931. TV
Former Late Late Show host Ferguson (American on Purpose) crafts a memoir from a series of autobiographical essays. He takes us on an elephant ride in Sri Lanka; embarks on an ill-fated, alcohol-laden fishing trip in New York; celebrates his son's bar mitzvah in Japan; and more. While each piece stands alone, the first and last entries are bookends to a collection of common threads: Ferguson's Scottish upbringing, career choices, family, and struggles with alcoholism. The author demonstrates his unique perspective with well-honed phrases and a liberal use of profanity. He provides cutting insights into fame and show business and into his personal life—one grotesque essay about a life-changing zit illustrates his willingness to bare his soul, blemishes and all.
VERDICT Humorous and heartfelt (often on the same page), Ferguson is a great storyteller, whose signature irreverence and comedic timing translate perfectly to print. His fans, as well as anyone interested in comedy, will be rewarded.

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