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Cosbyology    by Bill Cosby order for
by Bill Cosby
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2001 (2001)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

My family were Bill Cosby fans long before he became a TV personality, and I have fond memories of listening to his unique recollections of childhood through my own teen years. This new collection of 'Essays and Observations from the Doctor of Comedy' mixes in pieces very similar to those I enjoyed back then, with updated Cosbyology focussed on more modern issues such as ageing, mature marriage, jet skis and cholesterol.

Now, as a parent myself, I can imagine that the author was quite a handful as a child and understand his mother's threat to knock him 'into the middle of next week' along with young Cosby's feeling that 'there were times I really wanted to go there because that would give me at least four days away from them.' It is easy to relate to all parties and enjoy the humor of exaggeration that is the comedian's trademark. Actually there are some great tips for parents in here (as in confronting a child 'like American Gothic') which I fully intend to practice.

Cosby's voice flows from these pages. In fact, the humor would probably not work as well for anyone unfamiliar with his mode of speech, as the jokes need the usual Cosby cadences and emphases to communicate with their audience. Some made me laugh out loud as in the author's response to a Navy recruiter's comment that he's joining to 'see the world' - 'No ... I'm just trying to get off my block.' I appreciated the wisdom of others, as in the grandmother's solution to the cup half empty vs. half full conundrum. And there were nostalgic pieces as in Cosby's musing on the meaning of Tonto from The Lone Ranger - another piece of the fabric of childhood for many of us.

Cosbyology is a short volume, 'good for giving you a respite from long Michener-type books.' It will be best appreciated by those who are already fans; able to hear the comic read its pages aloud in their imaginations, and to relate to Bill Cosby's continuing wry look at the foibles of life.

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