From Publishers Weekly
Cleaning out the office after years of disuse was worthwhile for beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning oral historian Terkel (1912-2008), and even more so for the loyal readers who recently lost him. This collection of previously unpublished essays and interviews shouldn't disappoint. Much of the author's best stories come from his beloved hometown of Chicago, and "Dreamland" is a transporting example, about a 12-year-old Terkel and his big brother's habit of taking the wrong women home from the Dreamland ballroom. His 1961 interview with black author James Baldwin, covering music and politics, is both warm and bitingly honest: says Baldwin, "to be a Negro in this country is really just...never to be looked at." Another highlight, "A Gathering of Survivors," is a discussion of the Great Depression that's especially timely. In just a few pages, Terkel can effortlessly invoke laughter, tears and thoughtful wonder. Some pieces are less successful (an interview with lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" fame), but fans will be happy to sort them from the gems.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Oral historian, writer of conscience, and raconteur-on-a-mission Terkel follows his vivid and affecting memoir Touch and Go (2007) with an electrifying set of found treasures: startlingly fresh and newly relevant essays and interviews that have never been published or that only appeared long ago in a strictly local venue. Terkel’s recovered 1961 conversation with James Baldwin is worth the price of admission, so sharply and devastatingly candid is Baldwin about racism’s heavy legacy of fear, lies, brutality, and oppression. Equally timely, if less eviscerating, is Terkel’s incisive conversation with lyricist E. Y. Harburg, who wrote the Great Depression classic “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” In tales of Chicago election shenanigans (’tis the season) and other crimes, Terkel writes with chagrin and bemusement of his hometown under the rule of Janus, the two-faced deity. Hilarious, wry, sorrowful, and prescient, this collection affirms Terkel’s great gift for tapping into the lifeblood of America and discerning, with heart and clarity, exactly what people suffer and how they lift themselves up and keep on keeping on. --Donna Seaman