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WAKING UP SCREAMING FROM THE AMERICAN DREAM: NPR's Roving Correspondent Reports from the Bumpy Road to Success Hardcover – June 6, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Here's to Philip Klass, a teacher who steered the author toward journalism and taught him "how not to write." The writing that Garfield learned how to do is sometimes clever and witty, sometimes poignant, and sometimes clever and witty and poignant. His subjects are modern Don Quixotes tilting at the windmill of the American Dream?a dream that is different for different people presented here, e.g., the MBA financial analyst turned psychic healer. But these Quixotes are equally relentless in their pursuit of it, equally adamant in their refusal not to believe in themselves. What could have become a freak show with the author as its barker is not. Garfield shows too much respect for his subjects, and engages in too much self-deprecating humor, for that to happen. Not an absolutely essential purchase, but libraries that save a bit of budget money for the occasional treat should lap this up.?Jim G. Burns, Ottumwa P.L., Iowa.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

National Public Radio (NPR) commentator Garfield gathered his material for this collection of short essays from his travels around the U.S. over the past decade. Seeking out our country's eccentrics, dreamers, and wild-eyed "get-rich-quick" speculators, Garfield relates their quirky, sometimes funny, and sometimes sad stories in a slightly bemused tone. From an MBA financial analyst turned psychic healer in Santa Fe, to a Bronx bus driver who invests his savings in "Speakeasies" (cover-ups for public phone usage), to a Cleveland man who spends $50,000 hoping to get rich by publishing a magazine called Bathroom Journal, Garfield is never condescending and actually seems to admire some of the uniquely American characteristics (such as the pursuit, against all odds, of the world-changing idea and the never-ending hunt for the "big score") that he comes across. In short, it's the trying, not the succeeding, the incredible American optimism, that's the point of this enjoyable collection. Kathleen Hughes

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (June 6, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684832186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684832180
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,703,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By knord on May 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a collection of quirky stories about quirky people that the author happened upon in his work as a journalist. All the stories are loosely tied to the theme of "the road to success." You hear about the people who are planning to get rich by farming earthworms, poetry slams, the last professional human cannonball, selling condoms as key chains, and much, much, more.
Although most of the stories are quite funny, I really felt empathy for some of the people in them. All were just trying to get ahead, using ideas that most of us would consider to be doomed from the beginning. A couple made me feel down-right sad, especially the one about people trying to hit the big time with a cure for cancer. Instead of being amused by the investors' arrogance of thinking they had a miracle cure for cancer, I was deeply saddened to read about their desperate, terminally ill patients.
As a whole, however, the stories are quite amusing and entertaining. Reading the table of contents will give you just a small hint of what is to be found in this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By N. B. Kennedy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a book you read for the writing. I deeply admire Bob Garfield's talent, and not just because we share an alma mater!

In fact, the subjects of these sometimes brief, sometimes extended, profiles made me want to stop reading at times. Garfield interviews some pathetic, mentally ill, delusional, hopeless and even criminal people. I didn't find reading about them laugh-out-loud funny. In fact, some people are horrifying, such as the mad-inventor duo in Mexico with the cancer "treatment." Others, like the inventor of the Speakeasy phone receiver cover, are amusing, but ultimately sad as well.

In his introduction, the writer celebrates the tireless effort and boundless optimism of his subjects. Yet they don't inspire me to make a grab for the American dream. Rather,they make me want to retreat into a nice, stable, 9-to-5 job. Maybe that's the ultimate message of this book.
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