Complete and Utter Failure: A Celebration of Also-Rans, Runners-up, Never-Weres and Total Flops

Complete and Utter Failure: A Celebration of Also-Rans, Runners-up, Never-Weres and Total Flops

by Neil Steinberg
     
 
So you've got these fond hopes for blissful love, professional glory, fame, and fortune. But in the back of your mind there's that nagging fear. The man of your dreams will laugh in your face. Your hated office rival will come up with some whizbang marketing idea and get promoted, while you'll be asked to "help out with the phones." Steven Spielberg will buy

Overview

So you've got these fond hopes for blissful love, professional glory, fame, and fortune. But in the back of your mind there's that nagging fear. The man of your dreams will laugh in your face. Your hated office rival will come up with some whizbang marketing idea and get promoted, while you'll be asked to "help out with the phones." Steven Spielberg will buy the rights to your screenplay, spend $40 million producing it, and the critics will savage the film, mercilessly singling out your work for especially contemptuous, poisonous derision. But hey, everybody fails sometime. It's inevitable. So don't fear failure. Embrace it. In Complete And Utter Failure, Neil Steinberg joyfully explores the many fascinating facets of failure, from pointless failure (a brief history of several very dumb attempts to climb Mount Everest) to product failure (Reddi-Bacon, smokeless cigarettes, and Baby Jesus dolls) to institutionalized failure (the horrifying Dickensian spectacle of the National Spelling Bee, in which 8,999,999 children out of 9,000,000 fail in an excruciatingly public and humiliating fashion). This delightful book is filled with surprising and useless arcana--who really invented the telephone, what turned on Isaac Newton--guaranteed to help you annoy people at cocktail parties. Along the way Steinberg meditates on his own myriad miscues and disappointments, beginning with his failure to perform a magic trick in front of the neighborhood kids at age four (he blames Captain Kangaroo). Complete And Utter Failure is a wonderfully literate, witty book that issues a ringing message for our times: If at first you don't succeed, have a scotch and forget about it.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Chicago Sun-Times reporter Steinberg's book of humor is anything but a ``complete & utter failure.'' Rather, it is an informed and witty look at events, products and people that either never succeeded or first scored victories then faded away. He begins with the New York World's Fair of 1964, a fiscal fiasco from opening day, stops to survey such consumer items as butane candles and the Edsel, and attacks the national Spelling Bee, which turns kids into public failures. He goes on to victims of bad timing; those who insisted the impossible is possible, like inventors of perpetual-motion machines; and those who lived too long, like Newton, who devoted the last decades of his life to alchemy. Much fun. First serial to Granta; QPB and Library of Science Book Club selections. (Nov.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385479707
Publisher:
Broadway Books
Publication date:
10/11/1995
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.23(h) x 0.86(d)

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