Cover Image: I Was Better Last Night

I Was Better Last Night

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I've been aware of Harvey Fierstein as a voice over actor (his bit in BoJack is hysterical), movies, and on Broadway, but I never knew how much he did behind the scenes in writing or where his career started in off-off-Broadway.  I Was Better Last Night is like sitting down on a comfy couch with your friend and some tea and listening to them tell you their life story.  Plenty of laughs, tears, trauma and gossip, but you come away understanding that person a whole lot better and this autobiography has that in spades.  If you like Harvey Fierstein, theater, and what 70s NY was like I reccomend picking this up.  Thanks to NetGalley & Knopf Doubleday for the free ebook.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest and personal review. I really enjoyed Harvey Fierstein in Hairspray and so I was very interested in reading about him and his life. He is hilarious, candid and there are really personal moments as well. You get to learn about his early career, his dealings with alcoholism and what is was like to be a gay man during the height of the AIDS crisis. Engrossing from start to finish, thank you for telling your story Mr. Fierstein, I hope it helps others to hear some of what you went through.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and NetGalley for an ARC of this book.

I am a huge Broadway fan, so when I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it.  Harvey tells the story of his life, starting at his childhood and up to present day.  He talks about all of his work on Broadway , and also about being a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

I really found this book a fascinating read and I really enjoyed it. I would love to listen to it as an Audiobook, and hear it in Harvey's voice
Was this review helpful?
I was unable to read all of this work, but from what I have read so far: Fierstein's book, although sometimes exuding personality, is a rather sober look at this larger-than-life member of the acting and gay community.  I honestly thought the work would be filled with quips and witticisms...and there are moments where that takes place...but, instead, the book is primarily a standard memoir that neither overwhelms or underwhelms.  I would recommend it, based on what I read; but it would be remiss to say that it is a memorable memoir that wowed me.  In other words, it is a rather safe read all and all.
Was this review helpful?
Harvey Fierstein’s memoir is a really interesting and thrilling read! He details his life from childhood to present. The stories are priceless and he takes you on emotional highs and lows. This is an essential read for theatre kids, I laughed out loud and I cried.
Was this review helpful?
Harvey Fierstein's memoir, "I Was Better Last Night" is a gem of a book. He looks back on his life with humor, honesty, and passion. I will caution the reader that at times the language and situations are explicit. But personally, I did not find them offensive; just part of Harvey's life. Reading this memoir was like having Harvey Fierstein sitting next to me and telling his story in my ear. I could hear him whispering with his recognizable gravelly voice as he talked about the ups and downs of his life.
But the book is not just about his life. It's also a marvelous insight into how a play is born. Whether it's an adaption, an original concept, or revival. Whether it's a dramatic play, a musical, or a one person monologue, Fierstein tells you about the number of "midwives" and number of stumbles it takes to make a show.
For me, the most poignant chapter in the book is Harvey's look back at the explosion of the Aids crisis in the early 1980's. It is written with such passion and purpose; to let everyone know how horrendous this monster was.
Was this review helpful?
Love, love love Harvey. I have been a fan for YEARS. Still I did not know all that he has done. A great life, a great guy a fantastic book.
Was this review helpful?
A must read for Broadway fanatics! Fierstein's hilarious, eye-opening, bittersweet, and powerful memoir is a rank above your everyday celebrity memoir; not only is this an entertaining theatrical memoir, but it's also a remarkable portrait of the emerging LGBTQ+ pre and post-Stonewall community, as well as the ravages it faced during the height of the AIDS epidemic. I love Harvey Fierstein even more now!

*Special thanks to NetGalley and Knopf Publishing Group for an early arc of this incredible memoir.*
Was this review helpful?
This is a gossipy and hilarious good time cut through with heartfelt remembrances of friends lost along the way. Harvey has surely lived a full life and he took a lot of notes. Perfect for anyone interested in American theatre or the progress of the gay rights movement through the back half of the 20th century into the beginning of the 21st.
Was this review helpful?
Harvey Fierstein's wildly entertaining autobiography makes for brisk reading and it is very hard to put down. Beginning with his childhood in Brooklyn, he showed an early aptitute for art and was eagerly nudged by his mother who sent him to art school. In the early 70s, he was dabbling in theater and appeared in an Andy Warhol play. His fame came when he wrote "Torch Song Trilogy" and he went on to great successes with "La Cage Aux Folles," "Hairspray," and "Fiddler on the Roof", just to name a few. Along the way, he has acted in films, television and has written children's books. 

It is not all about the work though. Fierstein was just coming of age during the Stonewall era and was actuely aware of the inequalities and discrimination that gay people experienced in this country. Throughout his life, he has spoken out on a multitude of issues and has strived to educate the public whenever ignorance was noted (look up his revelation of an interview with Barbara Walters on YouTube). His gay rights activism extended into the 80s when the AIDS crisis dominated the news. (And here's a kick in the stomach - when he appeared on the Tonight Show, he overheard legendary actress Ginger Rogers tell the stage manager that she did not want to be on stage when Fierstein was there because she could not risk getting AIDS. Fierstein's comeback to her is priceless!)

There are many laugh-out-loud moments in the book and hilarious stories involving Arthur Laurents, Robin Williams, Estelle Getty and many others. There are moments of sad reflection and poignancy as well. He is candid about his personal demons, his addictions and family traumas. This is a great read and will be of interest to anyone interested in the theater as well as providing a vivid look at gay life during the 70s and 80s.
Was this review helpful?
Although I am familiar with Harvey Fierstein's major Broadway work in Hairspray and Torch Song Trilogy, I quickly realized that I was very unfamiliar with his groundbreaking early career. Fierstein's hilarious, eye-opening, bittersweet, and powerful memoir is a rank above your everyday celebrity memoir; not only is this an entertaining theatrical memoir, but it's also a remarkable portrait of the emerging LGBTQ+ pre and post-Stonewall community, as well as the ravages it faced during the height of the AIDS epidemic. 

Librarians/booksellers: A must read for Broadway fanatics! Purchase for your patrons/customers who enjoy frank memoirs. This will likely receive major publicity. 

Many thanks to Knopf Doubleday and NetGalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Harvey Fierstein is a national treasure and this book only confirms this.  His contributions to theatre will be enjoyed by generations long after we are gone.
Was this review helpful?
I was enthralled from start to finish. Harvey not only had a magnificent theatrical journey, but also a journey dealing with his sexual identity from the 1950’s to present day America.  I realized how much theater we have shared and  how much of his work I’ve taken for granted, sorry Harvey. 

Reading the backstories of his productions coupled with his own emotional story kept me mesmerized throughout the book. Insights into the lives of some of  my idols was enthralling. Following the genesis and evolution of La Cage was especially thrilling, since I’ve never missed an iteration of the show. 

Reading memoirs isn’t always as satisfying as his since it’s less a chronological retelling of events and more an invitation into the psyche of my brilliant, Jewish meshpocha. Bravo!

Thank you Netgalley for this very delightful ARC.
Was this review helpful?