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Dig Infinity!: The Life and Art of Lord Buckley Hardcover – 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Lord Buckley broke into show business with Red Skelton in the 1930s, but he is probably best known for the hip language routines he developed for his nightclub acts in the 1950s, the subjects of which ranged from Jesus Christ ("The Nazz") to the Marquis de Sade ("King of the Badcats"). Trager, the host of an annual radio show on Buckley and of a semiannual group performance of his material called "Dig and Thou Shall Be Dug," has produced a composite biography of the controversial hipster and stand-up comic, who influenced comedians as diverse as Lenny Bruce and Robin Williams. Weaving together Buckley's own writings, memories of friends and acquaintances, and news articles, reviews, and liner notes, Trager creates an impressionistic but detailed portrait of Buckley's life and times. Ed Sullivan, Steve Allen, David Amram, and Buckley's wife, Elizabeth, are among those who reminisce. A comprehensive bibliography and discography, as well as a CD compilation of Buckley in performance (not heard), make this essential for all Buckley fans. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries. William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

OLIVER TRAGER has for the past 17 years been an editor at Facts On File News Services, where he is currently editor-in-chief of Editorials On File, a semi-monthly journal which objectively surveys daily newspaper opinion of major news events. He produces and co-hosts an annual Lord Buckley radio show on WFMU, a free-form music station in New York City, and has produced, hosted and performed in "Dig and Thou Shall Be Dug," semi-annual group performances of Buckley’s material held in Greenwich Village.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 405 pages
  • Publisher: Welcome Rain Publishers; 1st edition (2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566491576
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566491570
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #549,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By John S. Ryan on June 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Oliver Trager did such a fine and thorough job on _The American Book of the Dead_ that I had high hopes for his biography of the great Lord Buckley. It's even better than I expected.
Trager's approach is suited to his subject. Rather than write a straightforward biography -- which would be difficult in any case because there are so many unanswered and unanswerable questions -- Trager has opted to tell His Lordship's life story through a sort of montage of mostly oral history. For this purpose he has interviewed, apparently, just about every living person on this sweet swingin' sphere who knew the Hip Messiah or was directly influenced by him in some way, and supplemented the interviews with excerpts from articles and other sources.
This approach makes the book read a bit like an extended episode of "Biography," flipping back and forth between the interviewees' reminiscences and the author's comments. It's not at all hard to follow; Trager even uses a different typeface for his own comments so we can tell what's narrative and what's not, and each interviewee/writer is clearly named at the beginning of each excerpt. (Each is introduced the first time one of his or her comments appears. If you forget who somebody is, you can flip to the back of the book and look up his first appearance; there's a list.)
It's about time somebody did a biography of The Lord of Flip Manor, and Trager's approach is highly appropriate to his subject. For example, by telling the story through the voices of others, he's able to present all the conflicting theories about Buckley's mysterious death without having to decide which one is most likely to be true.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Landsberg VINE VOICE on May 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have to give this book 5 stars on the subject alone. Its about time that someone sat down and took the time and effort to let Lord Buckley's story be told once again. - - I do have a problem with the narrative style of the book, but its probably moreso a matter of taste... Rather than telling the story, the author basically reprints one interview after another... and kinda pastes his sources together so Lord Buckley's story is told in the interviewee's own words... Many of these interviews come straight from the pages of magazines and radio interviews with people who knew him and they're strung together to create a sense of a coherent dialogue. The end result... some fascinating stories (I almost fell off the bed in laughter a few times... Lord Buckley's sick off stage pranks and antics often rivaled his actual act) but lot of repetition and choppy reading. I also felt that the author merely glanced over his childhood and evolution into the entertainment world, though in all fairness much of the information has probabably been lost to posterity. - - Overall, its a fascinating subject, the CD alone is worth the cost of the book... and the book really will pull you into Lord Buckley's sick world. - - Interviewees seem to include a cast of thousands... from Royal Court members to hiers of the legacy from the Rock and Roll and Comedy World... Move over Lenny Bruce, His Lordship is back ! ! !
CD includes some interviews by Studs Turkel, The Nazz, Murder, Ode to a Policeman... about 34 minutes... Well worth it ! - -
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Tom Dupree on May 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A fascinating if disjointed study of the art [mostly] and life [not as much as one would wish, but it's tough to catch up with the detritus of vaudeville and walkathons] of one of the most original and most influential comedian/orators ever to grace a stage, a view that people ranging from George Harrison to David Bowie to Frank Zappa to Steve Allen to James Taylor to Lenny Bruce all shared. Anyone who hears Lord Buckley -- and there's a half-hour audio CD included with the book so you can sample his hipsemantic style -- has to become curious about the man himself. This book finally helps to explain, and paints a fan's-eye picture of a gone cat who sweetly and profoundly decided to regard everyone he met as a potential member of his own Royal Court. I start with five stars for the subject and dock it one for the overly repetitive and pasted-together oral-history format, which skips around too much for comfort, and for the publisher's lousy copyediting and proofreading job.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By JB on June 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Lord Buckley certainly deserves to be the subject of at least one major study, and for that reason alone, we should be grateful "Dig Infinty" exists and we should thank its author for the public service he renders. But as the other reviewers here have indicated, the book itself is rather slapdash: it's poorly edited and highly repetitive. A shorter, more concentrated, and zippier text would have done much more work on Buckley's behalf. To this I must add that one of the bigger weaknesses of the book is the author's own miscalculation of Buckley in general. For the author, Buckley seems to provide some sort of acid test, a way of telling the cool from the uncool. And because of this overarching "hippie" ethos, Buckley becomes for the author a kind of "in" currency, a fetish if you will, something that can be traded and used as a sort of tool. Buckley, of course, was the antithesis of this "acid test" or "usefulness," and because of the author's own wish to use Buckley to portray his own insider's perspective, we have to wonder just how well the book portrays Buckley. In short, Buckley worked for inclusion, but the book falters in its purposeful stance on exclusion.
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