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No Success Like Failure: The American Love of Self-Destruction, Self-Aggrandizement, and Breaking Even Paperback – December 1, 1994


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In Putting Modernism Together, the author argues human culture can best be understood as a growth-pattern or ramifying of artistic, intellectual, and political action. Going beyond merely explaining how the artists in these genres achieved their peculiar effects, he presents challenging new analyses of telling craft details which help students and scholars come to know more fully this bold age of aesthetic extremism. Learn more | See similar books
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The title of this collection of reportage by a contributor to Esquire and The Village Voice (and a son of former HarperCollins senior editor Ted), suggests that an ironic, detached commentary a la Didion will bring the pieces together, and a hint of such emerges in Solotaroff's description of a Staten Island neighborhood ("I look out the back window, smelling rubber, WD-40, and steaks burning in the backyard"). The lack of any coherent pattern linking subjects ranging from trick-bike riders to Mark Gastineau is okay for a while, as Solotaroff's meticulously researched material and self-effacing, guy-next-door demeanor propel his writing (as when "some imp of the perverse" compels Solotaroff to try to block a shot of a street basketball legend, resulting in a slam dunk and a rejoinder: "Let that be a lesson to you.") He hits his stride in "The Regulars," as he chronicles the antics of rabid Yankee fans like Ali Ramirez who "hammers out an eight-beat salsa rhythm" on a cowbell when he feels a Yankee hit coming. Still, by the time readers reach the piece on Charles Manson's followers, coming as it does on the heels of a report on Bobby Fischer's chess championship in Montenegro, they may be feeling a bit bewildered.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A striking debut collection from a journalist whose articles for the Village Voice and Esquire portray people--some famous, some obscure--hovering somewhere around the edges of pop culture. In Reno, Nevada, on the trail of the heavy-metal band Judas Priest, whose albums allegedly caused the suicide attempts of two very troubled teens, Solotaroff captures the weirdness of this metastasizing ``town for losers'' and the leather-clad bandmen who love golf more than Satan. In the Yankee Stadium bleachers, he finds cheery, beery, foul-mouthed fans who tell macho stories of sports bonding. On a Yugoslavian island of Sveti Stefan for the renegade chess ``championship'' between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, he concludes that the surrounding war--the ``anarchy of freak individualism run amok''--absolutely fits Bobby Fischer's chess history. Trailing ex-footballer Mark Gastineau as he chases elusive glory in boxing, Solotaroff finds an overbearing stage father. He poignantly probes the lost dreams of playground hoops legend Earl Manigault, whose few personal effects include a dog- eared notebook and a photocopy of his Hollywood film option. He observes legendary musician James Brown, in perpetual trouble with the law, manically referring to himself in the third person--it sounds like ``Jamebrown''--amidst ``global/biblical self- pronouncements'' not entirely without foundation. A few short pieces--on the subculture of trick bikers, cracked-up comedian Charlie Barnett, and toilet-head comic Andrew Dice Clay--could use some more depth but are still arresting. Despite the unfortunate subtitle, a collection full of powerful descriptions and memorable moments. Ivan is the son of Ted Solotaroff, literary critic and former Harper editor. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 233 pages
  • Publisher: Sheep Meadow; 1st edition (December 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1878818317
  • ISBN-13: 978-1878818317
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,296,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 25, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I couldn't put this book down. My husband was reading it at the same time, and we actually bickered over whose turn it was to have the book. The author's insightful style of writing rendered the people he covered memorable and all too human. In the end, in was hard to decide which sketch was best--they were each unique and touching. I ended up ordering the book for friends. Some sketches were dark and disturbing, others hilarious and poignant, and all were thought-provoking. There seemed to be something in this book for everyone--and it's the type of book you wish would never end.
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By Kocese on January 27, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really liked this book, I almost didn't get past the first chapter/ case/ set of interviews as the suicide stories were really heavy and a hard way to start the book. But the rest of the book picks up as it goes along, the coverage of James Brown, Charlie Barnett were really good. He covers tough subjects and does it honestly and thoughtfully, it is a really interesting book.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "nickrostov" on March 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
An absolutely amazing read: probably the best book ever written. Travel with Ivan to Reno, NY and Yugoslavia and meet some of the scariest successful failures imaginable, and try to remember that it isn't fiction! These are portraits of our fallen heroes illuminated with Diogenes' halogen pen - yes, that really was ex-NY Jet superstar Mark Gastineau hoisting his teenage girlfriend's mom onto an exercise bike; yes, that really was the Godfather of Soul contrite before a local judge; and yes, it really was a bearded Bobby Fischer leading his circus into the war zone. Ivan has finally demonstrated his mastery of the craft, but God! I wish it were fiction. The Yankee stadium scene, with all of the unbelievable but utterly commonplace losers, hit home a little too hard. He has made a strong argument about neo-nihilist America, and it, ironically, is only his success as an author that counters it effectively.
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