It’s not always a bad thing to live in a town where electricity is barely on for seven hours a day. In two days, I have completed a feat I couldn’t while I was in Edwardsville. Larry King’s autobiography My Remarkable Journey. Covering adventures of the young son of immigrant parents from Europe, the book tells the story of how the Jewish kid Larry Zieger who never went to college made it through the very many interesting historical epochs of America to become the famous Larry King recognized worldwide for his voice, his show and his suspenders.
Like many autobiographies, there is the question of whether Larry the broadcaster was the same as Larry the autobiographer-the-writer who was able not only to remember in great detail many of the remarkable events of his childhood, but was able to write them in very fine prose in the 294 paged book. How much of it is fiction or embellishment of the ghostwriter, and how much is rooted in real facts of the broadcaster’s pen and memory?
He wrote of his first meeting with JFK, (it was a mild car accident in which Larry had run into the future president), he wrote of walking mistakenly into the full glare of cameras in the courtroom during O.J. Simpson’s trial without being a witness, how he won a lottery on just $2, and how he almost bribed the president elect Richard Nixon before the latter assumed the presidency. There are very many tender and happy moments in his life, and he recounts them with nostalgia. His many marriages (he was married eight times to seven women), his arrest and financial troubles at a time, his heart attacks and surgeries, and his relationship with his first son Larry King Jr. who he met when the latter was already thirty-three years old all took pride of place in the book.
For decades, the now seventy-seven year old man had helped people to open up themselves. In this work, he does it himself and does a good job of it. Fans and friends who would like to know his opinion of George W. Bush, Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton among others would do well to pick up the book. Talking about retirement, he hinted that his contract with CNN would be up by 2011, and he still doesn’t feel the need to retire. Hear him: “If I went off the air, what would it do to the ninety-nine year old woman who credits her longevity to watching my show every night?” That’s Larry King.
I’m now unto V.S Naipaul’s Miguel Street. This time, unlike the man making “a thing with no name”, I’m sure I’ll complete it in record time.