Many celebrity biographies possess certain similarities: ambition, failed relationships, struggle, and frequently, addictions and/or abuse. So much of the success of the book depends not only on how the author has dealt with these situations in real life, but also on how they are able to share the details with their readers.
For me, American on Purpose: the Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot by late-night talk show host Craig Ferguson is a success.
Born into a middle-class family in Glasgow, Scotland, Ferguson was pudgy boy who was beaten up pretty frequently. A lifelong passion for the United States was kindled by a letter exchange with NASA and a visit to the U.S. as a teen. Along the way, he discovered music (with a brief career as a punk rock drummer), alcohol and drugs, and eventually stand-up comedy and acting. Following a failed suicide attempt (he was diverted by a friend's offer of a drink) he eventually entered rehabilitation, and has been sober since 1992.
Throughout it all, Ferguson remains refreshingly gracious and unpretentious. He recounts the events and people in his life without malice, but instead with candor, equanimity, and a large dose of humor.
A bit of a warning here: the language may be offensive to some readers. Listening to the audiobook, which Ferguson narrates with that lovely brogue of his, probably made things a bit easier on the ears.
Okay; I'll admit it. I don't think I've ever stayed up to watch The Late Late Show. School nights, household duties--the usual reasons. But after reading American on Purpose, I just might.