American Scream: The Bill Hicks Story - Cynthia True 3/5 stars
I've been an avid Hicks fan for a very long time and I know that people say that quite often, and quite a few times it's all bullshit. The reason I love Hicks so much is that he said exactly what I was thinking most of the time. He connected with his fans on a level that most comedians only dream of and American Scream was finally our chance to learn about who Hicks was. I think most of the problem is True's fear of upsetting his fans. She gives us exactly what we want and we get to know Bill a little better, but as a fan I was expecting more. It's as if she knows that we want a book that respects Bill while talking about his life, and his Legacy. There's very little dirt here, but we do get to experience his frustration with the American audience for not getting him or his material. When you see Hicks live there's so much intensity there, but there's also an intelligence that most people failed to see, or maybe they did, but were too scared to admit it.
Where the book does connect with readers is during his illness. I kept hoping that Bill would beat this because he was finally breaking through. He was achieving everything he had set out to do and then of course there was that pesky Letterman performance that got banned. We see Bill fading before our eyes and it's not fair. It sucks that no talented hacks get to live while true heroes die. As I neared the book's conclusion I knew what was going to happen, but I didn't want to read it. This is where Cynthia truly connects with the readers as we realize that he's not going to beat the cancer and he would be taken from us sooner than we all expected. It's a man's fight to leave a legacy that really makes the last half of the book so sad and it's where we as fans really get to see what Bill was going through.
American Scream isn't as bad as some critics are saying. As a peek at Hicks and who he was it could've been better. I was hoping for more bits from his stand up so that it would show non Hicks fans just how good he was, but you get very little of that here which shows me that this one wasn't really meant to convert people but to give his fans some sort of closure. Of course we'll never get that because Bill Hicks was different than everyone else. He said exactly what we're thinking but are too afraid to say it. Bill's words still resonate because he wasn't afraid to tell us the truth and if we were offended maybe, just maybe we needed to be. If you want to know who Hicks was look at his body of work. Relentless, Dangerous, even the stand up specials show us exactly who he was and what he believed in more than the book did.
The bottom line is that it's not terrible and it's a chance for us to remember Bill, but it was lacking a bit and won't do casual fans any good. It stays even throughout so there's nothing to piss off die hard fans, and that's where the book fails. She even admits that she wasn't a fan so maybe that was the problem, She only saw him as an outsider who knew a little bit about him but never got to experience what we all loved about him. It just plays it way too safe and makes the book a worthy while read but not something you're going to pick up and read again.