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.
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