92-year-old Norman Lear, the progressive and controversial television pioneer who created All in the Family and The Jeffersons, has a new book out. The autobiography, called Even This I Get to Experience, is about–among other things over the course of nine decades–how he got lucky. He sold the first thing he wrote. And it kept going pretty well from there.
Lear was lucky in a lot of ways, but he wasn’t born that way. He grew up during the Depression and his father was in prison during his formative years. President Bill Clinton awarded the National Medal of the Arts to Lear in 1999, saying that “Norman Lear has held up a mirror to American society and changed the way we look at it.” In Even This I Get to Experience Lear holds up the mirror again, pointing it at himself and at the America experienced. He’s also good at keeping the friends he’s made. “Norman Lear can find humor in life’s darkest moments…such a great read,” writes Bill Clinton, 15 years later. It’s a beautiful man’s beautiful book, everybody else seems to say. The word wisdom keeps popping up. Hilarious, touching, instructive and true. Norman Lear and his book are all these things.