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Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales Hardcover – August 2, 2016
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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"This hugely entertaining book chronicles Jillette's weight-loss odyssey, but it really does much more than that...funny and profane...undeniably inspiring."—Booklist
"Penn Jillette of the comedy-magic duo Penn and Teller holds nothing back in 'Presto!' as he describes how he lost almost a third of himself in a rather unconventional way. Using honesty and humor, he takes readers on his journey to discovering a healthy lifestyle....Jillette has written an extremely funny and somewhat profane book that will motivate others to seek weight-loss solutions."—ASSOCIATED PRESS (AP)
Praise for GOD, NO!
“Penn Jillette is a 21st-century Lordof Misrule: big, boisterously anarchic, funny, Rabelaisian, impossible—andunique. There isn't—couldn't be—better not be—anybody like him.” (Richard Dawkins, bestselling author ofThe Greatest Show on Earth and The God Delusion)
“There are few people in the country who question more boldly, brashly and bravely than my friend Penn Jillette. This book is funny, provocative and profane. But is it right? God, no!” (Glenn Beck)
“This planet has yielded exactly one mutual friend for Glenn Beck and me and that friend has written a brilliant book called God, No!. Penn reveals ‘the big secret of magic,’ tells you why tattoos are perfect expressions of atheism and exactly what to eat when you know you're going to vomit later.” (Lawrence O’ Donnell)
"People who say that libertarians have no heart or atheists have no soul need to read this book. Because Penn Jillette has a lot of both." (Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of South Park and award-winning Broadway musical The Book of Mormon)
"Jillette has made a career as a provocateur, and it is tempting to dismiss this book as another piece of carny shtick, but there is a forceful intelligence at work here that demands to be taken seriously. He has shaped his argument with care." (Daniel Stashower, Washington Post Book World)
About the Author
Penn Jillette is a cultural phenomenon as a solo personality and as half of the world-famous Emmy Award-winning magic duo Penn & Teller. His solo exposure is enormous: from Howard Stern to Glenn Beck to the Op-Ed pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times. He has appeared on Dancing with the Stars, MTV Cribs, and Chelsea Lately and hosted the NBC game show Identity. As part of Penn & Teller, he has appeared more than twenty times on David Letterman, as well as on several other TV shows, from The Simpsons and Friends to Top Chef and The View. He cohosts the controversial series Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, which has been nominated for sixteen Emmy Awards. He is currently cohost of the Discovery Channel's Penn & Teller Tell a Lie and the author of God, No! and Presto.
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Like most Americans, as he got older, Jillette got heavier. He noticed that while chocolate cake was a treat his mother made a few times a year, it was now available daily, if not hourly. There is junk food everywhere – at meetings, in the green room, backstage, and he ate basically all day long. He was sluggish, out of breath, and in denial. And he was on blood pressure meds and other joys. And this is someone who has never smoked, drank or taken recreational drugs. By losing a hundred pounds, he found he could give up the meds. He could taste tastes better and he lost his cravings for doughnuts and other such staples of SAD – the Standard American Diet. And with this book he has become an evangelist for it.
To the the point of being aggravating. It’s a 300 page testimonial to Ray Cronise, who designed his program, and who is himself now leveraging off helping Penn Jillette lose that hundred pounds. It’s a multipronged multimedia marketing campaign, and that lessens the love, at least for me. For the millions of the overweight and obese, I hope it is inspirational.
The book desperately needs editing. It is terribly repetitive. Jillette has no problem saying the same thing eight or ten times. It is possibly the longest diet memoir in history. It’s almost a page a day of his diet. But it’s from the heart, and it’s the usual honest, forthright and fearless Penn Jillette, so there’s little point going on about it.
The message is terrific. Eat better and you will crave better foods. It’s a virtuous circle. You lose the extra weight, you feel more energetic, and your body thanks you by making life easier. But it’s not magic.
The real message in Presto, his permanent lifestyle transformation, is in the book, but we likely won't hear it reported widely in the media or on blogs. Some ideas may indeed be very contrary to what the popular diet and exercise dogmas most often teach. Most reports will probably focus on potatoes and Penn explains the funny magic act behind this often maligned food.
We can watch as this unravels in the press. We can listen as the media and blog machines kick into high gear with the "paleos and vegans' debating as the "carb vs fat" arguments mound. Where does he get his protein? We'll hear experts tell us all about how wrong this is (ignoring his success) without first talking to his physicians. One doesn't get too crazy with the loud, formerly overweight talking half of one of the most successful Vegas shows without second, third, and fourth opinions, right? Of course he's done it and we see the results, but some were once critiquing his approach based on information found in a tabloid article. His response to that article will make you cry with laughter and perhaps enlightens us on how stories get twisted. Presto contains many bites of wisdom all plated with Penn's comedic genius.
Penn's transformation challenges status quo and suggests we can all make a change. Like much of his advice, Presto centers on breaking away from accepting mass mediocrity and instead seeking the best. Our struggles are real, but laughing at our mistakes brings us much closer to success than living a life driven by fear. We hear a lot of exaggerated claims about slowing metabolisms (the latest biggest loser distraction) and warnings against losing weight too quickly. Of course none of this will apply to the 196,000 people that had some form of bariatric surgery last year or the 703,000 in the 4 years prior.
These people can't eat Penn's diet now without difficulty and I'd really hope to inspire those considering this option to do something really crazy: change your lifestyle. For Penn, his train wreck in health was the license he needed to be crazy and REALLY do something this time, no matter what. While people very well be convinced by the inner chatter, friends, family, and conventional medical wisdom that they don't have the willpower or are metabolically broken; maybe that isn't true. Penn's success suggests we can make a lot more progress with laughter along the way.
It's not crazy to surgically rearrange someone's intestinal tract to limit their ability to swallow, but we are to lead to believe that it's crazy for me to tell Penn to voluntarily do the same thing. Okay, I'm a nut. My friend is doing great 17 months later, off 6 powerful BP meds and happy.
We do crazy things for friends, right?
Laced in the humor is a simple message - Change your lifestyle. Really. Change it. There's no need wait for the next new diet book or even reach for a potato. We probably won't hear this headline and that's actually what Penn did; he changed his relationship with food. Penn's success can be summed up in two sentences:
It's nearly impossible to lose weight with moderation and to keep that weight off eating a controlled quantity of what was eaten to gain it.
Further if social relationships dominate one's plate and these relationships are with people that eat unhealthily, the odds of moderating the food and the social pressure are overwhelmingly in favor of failure.
When disruptive ideas are introduced, no one is completely correct. We want this to be, but history teaches we usually aren't. There are some paths that lead to cul-de-sacs and some that inch us closer to the truth. Presto has the ability to move you a mile, but it involves a permanent change that goes against what is socially normal.
Penn is okay with running against social norm when it's for a just cause and we should all be happy for his success.