Confessions of a Dangerous Mind - Chuck Barris
Robyn and I went to see the movie (hilarious, bizarre, a little reminiscent of "A Beautiful Mind") a while back and I decided to give the book a shot. I listened to most of it on CD driving to and from work since the book was checked out for a while, and then finished the rest. There are quite a few differences between the book and the movie; some obviously to make scenes a little more cinematic, but others for less obvious reasons. The main thing, though, is that the book is obviously so much longer, and that much more outrageous.

The book is purportedly the autobiography of Chuck Barris, creator of "The Dating Game" and "The Gong Show" (along with a host of other shows), and also CIA agent and hired killer. I don't know if I buy Barris' claims to be a CIA agent. Much of what he writes seems to be the sort of thing that anyone who's seen a lot of spy movies could make up, although Barris is definitely an engaging writer. Some of his claims could be checked up on—was there really a Salvador Renza alongside Che Guevara who was assassinated in 1966? But others are, conveniently, impossible to verify. Either way, it reads as a great crime caper and the story of a man addicted to fame. His efforts to put so many television shows on the air, and then his devasatation at being called the "King of Schlock" are intermingled with his "jobs" for The Company. Be forewarned: the book has more than its share of foul language, sexist remarks, and (of course) murder and mayhem.

Is it true? Who knows. Is it a fascinating read? Definitely.

Fed to jonathan's brain | April 15, 2003