Posted on 2011-10-24. By anonymous.
Publisher: De..lta 2001 | 384 Pages | ISBN: 0385333722 | EPUB + PDF | 2 MB + 2 MB
Bill Zehme's biography of comic actor/performance artist Andy Kaufman (subject of the feature film Man in the Moon) is a meticulously researched, eminently readable, and very strange book--this last being perhaps no surprise given its subject. Written over a six-year period, Lost in the Funhouse is crammed with details gleaned from interviews with the actor's family, friends, teachers, coworkers, and unwitting participants in Kaufman's pranks. In particular, the book provides great insight into Kaufman's early life in Great Neck, NY, his relationship with transcendental meditation, and his first forays into nightclubs in the early '70s. Zehme, author of The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin', weaves together multiple narratives from varying perspectives, including passages in which the author appears to have entered his subject's brain. Zehme did have access to unpublished letters and manuscripts (which fans would certainly like to see published on their own one day), but the only person who could legitimately verify the accuracy of these passages is no longer with us.
At its best, the book approaches that apex of artful celebrity bi-fiction, Nick Tosches's Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams. The transitions from one perspective to the next are a bit jarring at first, but once the reader gives in to Zehmes's collage of multiple personalities, one is considerably closer to understanding the book's subject. Kaufman was nothing if not a collection of various intense personalities: the young boy continually mourning his grandfather's death; the likable and naive Foreign Man; the talentless and irascible lounge singer Tony Clifton; the bliss-seeking student of TM; the devoted and loving son who never had anything to do with his own child; and world champion of inter-gender wrestling. Lost in the Funhouse is the one Kaufman tome that will please neophytes as well as those with their own Andy Kaufman Web sites.
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