Thursday, October 13, 2011

I Didn't Ask to Be Born (But I'm Glad I Was)

By Bill Cosby
New York, Center Street, 2011
193 pages    Humor

You can almost see Bill Cosby recounting the stories in his new book, I Didn’t Ask to be Born, and hear the laughter from the audience. Those of us who have seen Bill Cosby live or watched one of his shows on HBO or DVD can even visualize the faces he makes and we can add pauses to the appropriate places in the text. The stories in the book seem to be part of his new routine which he premiered during his 2011 tour.

The title of the book comes from a story about trying to get his daughter to clean her room. She says in a fit of pique: “I didn’t ask to be born,” to which his wife replied, “We didn’t ask for you either!” The centerpiece story  is a long rambling essay about Genesis called “The Missing Pages.” Cosby asserts that the reason why Genesis is confusing is because there are pages missing. For instance, there have to be some missing pages between the part where Adam and Eve eat from the tree of forbidden fruit and where they cover themselves, because the “writers don’t say anything about where Eve got the needle and thread to sew the leaves together” to make their coverings. Cosby imagines conversations between God and Adam and conversations between Adam and Eve. And the reason why we don’t know for sure what these conversations were about is because of the missing pages.

I Didn’t Ask to be Born includes stories from Cosby’s childhood, stories from the childhoods of his children, and stories about his grandchildren. From what I could tell, these are all new stories. A reviewer of one of his tour stops commended him for all this new material. He commented that most entertainers are content to do a “greatest hits” tour when they are Cosby’s age, but that in his current tour, everything is new.

 My daughter-in-law took my grandson Maxwell to a performance in Chicago. Maxwell didn’t particularly want to go because he didn’t know who Bill Cosby was; it probably wasn’t going to be fun. Well, he had the time of his life and talked about it for days and days. There is just something about Bill Cosby. My children were raised on Bill Cosby on cassette tapes and television. We all loved the “Dad is great! Gave us the chocolate cake” routine. It was fun to know that Maxwell loved him as well.

I Didn’t Ask to be Born will be a delightful Christmas gift for someone on your list. Publishers Weekly comments that the stories are “all written with the amiable and accessible lightweight lilt Cosby's eager readers expect.” The book comes out on Nov. 1 in time for holiday shopping. It’s lots of fun. I recommend it.
Bill Cosby’s website with his list of performances until the end of the year:
The review in Publisher’s Weekly:

I received this book in galley form from the publisher. Thanks for a fun read.

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