A fan of history, music, sports — but especially the Bruins

Henry Leutwyler

By Amy Sutherland Globe Correspondent 

Comedian, actor, author, and diehard Bruins fan Denis Leary takes an out-of-character, nice approach in his newest book, “Why We Don’t Suck.” But don’t put down your guard. Leary, as in Dr. Leary (he has an honorary doctorate from Emerson, his alma mater), isn’t out to make you feel good about yourself. His prescription for surviving the current partisan internecine warfare — laugh at yourself. The Worcester native will talk about his book at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26 at the Wilbur Theatre. Tickets for the event, co-sponsored by Brookline Booksmith, are $38 and include a book.

BOOKS: What are you reading?


LEARY: The David Bowie oral history by Dylan Jones. It’s the best Bowie book I’ve ever read. They should have called it the Bowie Bible.

BOOKS: Is that typical of your reading?

LEARY: My wife is a novelist, and I’ll read the first or second draft of what she’s writing. Beyond that the only time I read fiction is if I’m trying to option something through my production company. I’m steadfastly history, sports, and music. I generally read three or four books at time.

BOOKS: What else are you reading?

LEARY: The new Muhammad Ali bio by Jonathan Eig, which is fantastic, and I just finished the best football book ever: “The Quarterback Whisperer” about Bruce Arians, the coach for the Arizona Cardinals, by Arians and Lars Anderson.


BOOKS: Were you a reader growing up?

LEARY: My old man came from a family of 14 kids. When his mother passed away, he and his oldest brother left school and went to work. He only went through sixth or seventh grade. When he came to America he’d read anything. There were lots of history books in the house. That’s how I got interested. I went to St. Peter’s in Worcester where my favorite thing was just torturing the nuns. The only thing I did well in was English because I liked to read. One of my favorite books was “Bobby Orr and the Big, Bad Bruins” by Stan Fischler. My second favorite was “Orr on Ice” by Bobby Orr, which explained how he kept his skates and sharpened them. But I would also read my dad’s history books that were lying around.

BOOKS: Do you remember any of the books you read in high school English?

LEARY: We had a nun who was ahead of the curve, and she had us read “Burr” by Gore Vidal, a novel about Aaron Burr. This thing was like a paperweight, but I started reading and thought, ‘Wow this is a great book.’ That kind of saved my life because that got me interested in writing.

BOOKS: Any there other books that changed your life?

LEARY: This is a strange book. When I was younger another actor gave me “I Was Interrupted” by the director Nicholas Ray, which is about how to act on film. I had no experience in front of the camera, only on stage. It was like a textbook on how to behave on a movie set. It’s like if you are a guy working in a wire factory someone has to explain to you how to run the machine.


BOOKS: Do you ever pick up self-help books?

LEARY: I would never pick up one, but because she’s a friend of mine I read Whitney Cummings’s “I’m Fine . . . And Other Lies.” She’s a brilliant comedian. It’s about how messed up her life is and how to not make the same mistakes she has. It’s hilarious. If you are going to make me laugh, I’m in.

BOOKS: Which historical figures have you read a lot about?

LEARY: Patton and Eisenhower. I read an interesting book by Jonathan W. Jordan, “Brothers, Rivals, Victors,” about their relationship. Those guys went to West Point, and both served during World War I.

BOOKS: Which athletes have you read the most about?

LEARY: I’ve read every thing there is to read about Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr and those Boston Bruin teams. “The Brothers Esposito” came out when I was a teenager. I still have my copy of that signed by both Phil and Tony. I’ve read every book about Bobby Orr, including his own autobiography. If you said to me, “You can only keep two books, I would say ‘Orr on Ice’ and ‘The Brothers Esposito.’ ” Those go way back into my childhood.


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