Buy Used
$0.01
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Good | Details
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Light wear with minimal wear on cover and bindings. Pages show minor use.100% Money Back Guarantee. Shipped to over one million happy customers.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

A Complete and Utter Failure: A Celebration of Also-Rans, Runners-Up, Never-Weres & Total Flops Paperback – October 1, 1995


See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover, Import
"Please retry"
$0.16
Paperback
"Please retry"
$9.00 $0.01

Best Books of the Year
See the Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Year
Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.

Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Main Street Books; 1St Edition edition (October 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385479700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385479707
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,510,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

So you've got these fond hopes for blissful love, professional glory, fame, and fortune. But in the back of your mind there's that nagging fear. The man of your dreams will laugh in your face. Your hated office rival will come up with some whizbang marketing idea and get promoted, while you'll be asked to "help out with the phones." Steven Spielberg will buy the rights to your screenplay, spend $40 million producing it, and the critics will savage the film, mercilessly singling out your work for especially contemptuous, poisonous derision. But hey, everybody fails sometime. It's inevitable. So don't fear failure. Embrace it. In Complete And Utter Failure, Neil Steinberg joyfully explores the many fascinating facets of failure, from pointless failure (a brief history of several very dumb attempts to climb Mount Everest) to product failure (Reddi-Bacon, smokeless cigarettes, and Baby Jesus dolls) to institutionalized failure (the horrifying Dickensian spectacle of the National Spelling Bee, in which 8,999,999 children out of 9,000,000 fail in an excruciatingly public and humiliating fashion). This delightful book is filled with surprising and useless arcana--who really invented the telephone, what turned on Isaac Newton--guaranteed to help you annoy people at cocktail parties. Along the way Steinberg meditates on his own myriad miscues and disappointments, beginning with his failure to perform a magic trick in front of the neighborhood kids at age four (he blames Captain Kangaroo). Complete And Utter Failure is a wonderfully literate, witty book that issues a ringing message for our times: If at first you don't succeed, have a scotch and forget about it.

From the Inside Flap

So you've got these fond hopes for blissful love,  professional glory, fame, and fortune. But in the  back of your mind there's that nagging fear. The  man of your dreams will laugh in your face. Your  hated office rival will come up with some whizbang  marketing idea and get promoted, while you'll be  asked to "help out with the phones."  Steven Spielberg will buy the rights to your  screenplay, spend $40 million producing it, and the critics  will savage the film, mercilessly singling out  your work for especially contemptuous, poisonous  derision. But hey, everybody fails sometime. It's  inevitable. So don't fear failure.  Embrace it. In Complete And Utter  Failure, Neil Steinberg joyfully explores the many  fascinating facets of failure, from pointless  failure (a brief history of several very dumb  attempts to climb Mount Everest) to product failure  (Reddi-Bacon, smokeless cigarettes, and Baby Jesus  dolls) to institutionalized failure (the horrifying  Dickensian spectacle of the National Spelling Bee,  in which 8,999,999 children out of 9,000,000 fail  in an excruciatingly public and humiliating  fashion). This delightful book is filled with surprising  and useless arcana--who really invented the  telephone, what turned on Isaac Newton--guaranteed to  help you annoy people at cocktail parties. Along  the way Steinberg meditates on his own myriad  miscues and disappointments, beginning with his failure  to perform a magic trick in front of the  neighborhood kids at age four (he blames Captain Kangaroo).  Complete And Utter Failure is a  wonderfully literate, witty book that issues a  ringing message for our times: If at first you don't  succeed, have a scotch and forget about it.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
5
4 star
3
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
See all 8 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Evan A. Evanson on December 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
A wonderful, hilarious, beautifully written, and inadvertently profound book. Neil Steinberg, previously the author of an eye-popping compendium of college pranks ("If At All Possible, Involve A Cow"), takes what would seem the most dismal of subjects and turns it into an empathetic and celebratory meditation on an underappreciated trait that binds us all together, the capacity to screw up, time and time again.
Plus, how can you not love the writing of someone who describes Hostess SnoBalls as "without corollary among the foodstuffs of the planet" and "unique to the point of freakishness"?
Like a lot of other people, I suspect, I loved this book so much I bought 20 copies and gave them out as presents; I'm actually glad it's out of print, for the sake of my bank account.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brad Bowling on October 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
Perhaps a more accurate title for this book would be "Perspective." Steinberg's theme of failure is explored from all sides and from top to bottom, the way some people get fascinated by glass paperweights. His writing style is concise but brings a laugh every couple of pages. It's a shame that such an entertaining read should be out of print. I came across a copy in a "clearance" bookstore for $4 and was intrigued by the title.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
If you ever "won" in a spelling bee, this book is a must read. Neil Steinberg captures the curious tragedies of life, however much they might try to masquerade. He finds the blunders obscuring the genius in patents, products and people. I do have to say that Mr Steinberg overuses his own experiences as the prism through which to view the world of stumbling. But then, I think he also needs and relishes criticism, and I don't want to disappoint. Overall, I want to thank Neil Steinberg for the occasional out loud chortle that surprised and disturbed both my family and strangers on airplanes as I read his book.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By guitarbuddy@earthlink.net on June 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
I made the mistake of lending this book to a friend of mine who moved out of state. If you chance upon a copy, buy it by all means. It's rare to find a book that can cause you to laugh until tears stream down your face, and this is such a book. In a world where winning is usually assumed to be the only worthwhile goal, Steinberg has shown the often poignant and sometimes pathetic side effects that accompany those who "go for the gold." The chapter on spelling bees was worth the price of admission. It's a crime that it's out of print.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?