From Publishers Weekly
Although the prolific, multitalented Shepherd (1921-1999) was an actor, author, emcee, recording artist and screenwriter (A Christmas Story
), he's remembered by many as a late-night radio raconteur , who for 21 years on New York City's WOR-AM mixed heartland humor and hip, sardonic rants with memories of his Indiana youth. This prismatic portrait affirms Shepherd's position as one of the 20th century's great humorists. Railing against conformity, he forged a unique personal bond with his loyal listeners, who participated in his legendary literary prank by asking bookstores for the nonexistent novel I, Libertine
(when Ian Ballantine had Shepherd and Theodore Sturgeon make the fake real, PW
called it "the hoax that became a book"). Storyteller Shepherd's grand theme was life itself; Marshall McLuhan called Shepherd's broadcasts "a new kind of novel that he writes nightly." Minus guests and call-ins, it was talk radio, but Shepherd was the only voice, ad-libbing monologues like jazz riffs for a huge following via WOR's 50,000-watt reach. Novelist Bergmann (Rio Amazonas
) interviewed 32 people who knew Shepherd or were influenced by him and listened to hundreds of broadcast tapes, inserting transcripts of Shepherd's own words into a "biographical framework" of exhaustive research. 30 b&w photos.
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These days, Jean Shepherd (1921-99), radio raconteur, social commentator, and author, is best known as the narrator of the perennially favorite holiday film A Christmas Story
. But to his hardcore fans he was a pied piper of the radio waves--a nighttime voice that took them beyond their mundane realities by revealing how interesting the mundane can be. Shepherd broadcast almost nightly from 1955 to 1977 on WOR in New York City, gaining a cult following among the small community of insomniacs he dubbed the "night people." Although the author reveals himself as one of Shepherd's fans and this book as a labor of love--the title itself is a phrase Shepherd urged his fans to invoke--he makes no effort to hide his subject's faults. Bergmann points out that Shepherd's so-called nostalgia was actually antinostalgia: the painful memories of childhood and young adulthood are carefully masked by a fine midwestern sense of humor. A true storyteller and monologist--and a prickly genius. Frank CasoCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved