The funny thing about Stephen Tobolowsky is I bought his collection of personal stories, The Dangerous Animals Club, without having a clue about the author. Yet, as I read his book, I learned that he has been a character actor in so many of my favorite television shows, most notably, Deadwood. Midway through the book, I looked him up on IMDB and I had my light-bulb moment.
As much as I enjoy watching Tobolowsky act, I think that he might be even better as a writer. The Dangerous Animals Club is a broad collection of stories from Tobolowsky's childhood, relationships and career. He even carefully delves into more contentious subjects such as religion and spirituality.
The element of his writing that struck me the most is that he comes across as very humble. He has had a lot of amazing opportunities in his life and he has a lot of great advice to impart, but it's from the angle of an every man. He writes about life and gives advice from his unique perspective, but does it in a manner that is open and accepting that other experiences might shift his perspective. Tobolowsky comes across as possessing a keen sense of self-awareness.
I enjoyed the entire book, but in particular, I really loved reading about Tobolowsky's childhood. I loved the chapter that the title of the book comes from, as Tobolowsky recounts a childhood club that he formed with friends, in which they set out to catch and collect all of the most dangerous animals that lived in their area. It's hilarious and filled with so much wonder and naiveté.
I definitely related to it with similar things that I did in my own childhood. Tobolowsky's characterization of himself as a child is just really funny. He has this persistence and curiosity that keeps pushing him forward, even when the world is telling him no. It's this attitude that served him well as an adult in the entertainment industry.
The Dangerous Animals Club is a wonderful collection of stories and it's really irrelevant if the reader is aware of his acting career. The collection has a broad reach and I imagine that most readers would find it enjoyable. I hope that Tobolowsky doesn't wait too long to write a follow-up book.