Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Dead Guy Interviews (Michael A. Stusser)

Sorry for the recent drop off. I was away, followed by a series of mishaps that led to not having reviews ready. Not to worry, though! I've got at least the next three weeks' worth of reviews all prepped and ready to go. There's some decent stuff coming up, it's gonna be fun.


So, the inside cover says this guy spends most of his time inventing board games and writing for parenting magazines. I guess one day he came up with an idea he just had to write, and churned out this little gem. Alright, I'm gonna cut to the chase on this one and say right now that I wasn't impressed. The concept was really intriguing: interview famous dead people. Okay, I can go with that, show me what you can do. Well, what Stusser can do is be racist and repetitive. The end. He interviews 45 deceased personalities, including Lincoln, Beethoven, Houdini and Caesar, but the book gets old after the first ten. Instead of giving each subject their own distinct personality, he gives them all their own distinct accent, but somehow they still wind up sounding the same: flat. Not only that, but each celebrity was presented as a ridiculous characterization of themselves: Cleopatra is a sex fiend trying to get Stusser into bed; Mozart is a petulent child too rambunctious to even sit still; Poe is so drugged out that he asks if he can drink turpentine in the middle of his interview. And most of the interviews are five pages, which is probably two pages too long.

There were definitely some humorous moments, don't get me wrong. Stusser often makes fun of himself by having his subjects get annoyed with him, some even threatening him with death repeatedly (and then another threatens him with death, repeatedly, and then another, repeatedly, repeatedly, again, and again, repeatedly). There were also plenty of useful little factoids about each person strewn throughout the interviews, which I assume was one of the main purposes of the book, so maybe it would be helpful for kids? At this point I really don't know. I'm thinking this might've been better as some kind of website, though, where people can come in and read up on people in a new and fairly interesting way, but without having to read all the rest. Right now the book is too long, very repetitive, and living in this bizarre place between informative and absurd.


The Dead Guy Interviews: Conversations with 45 of the Most Accomplished, Notorious, and Deceased Personalities in History
by Michael A. Stusser.

It really was a great idea. I'll at least give him credit for that.

Reading the same thing over and over gets boring after a while, which is unfortunate because some of the better interviews aren't until later on in the book.

It's informative, and had a decent premise, but it isn't executed very well. The only reason it's rated this high is because it's a fairly quick and simple read, so it's not necessarily painful to get through. Maybe if it had a different framing device or something? Who knows.


Sorry this one was a dud. Now at least you know not to pick it up when you see it on the "Buy 1, Get 1 Free" table at B&N or Borders. Until next week, keep reading, Genoshans!

1 comment:

  1. I actually got it for $3.99 at Borders, just to clarify.


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