Excelsior, You Fathead!: The Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd

Excelsior, You Fathead!: The Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd

by Eugene B. Bergmann
     
 

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(Applause Books). Jean Shepherd (1921-1999), master humorist, is best known for his creation A Christmas Story , the popular movie about the child who wants a BB gun for Christmas and nearly shoots his eye out. What else did Shepherd do? He is considered by many to be the Mark Twain and James Thurber of his day. For many thousands of fans, for decades, "Shep" talked

Overview

(Applause Books). Jean Shepherd (1921-1999), master humorist, is best known for his creation A Christmas Story , the popular movie about the child who wants a BB gun for Christmas and nearly shoots his eye out. What else did Shepherd do? He is considered by many to be the Mark Twain and James Thurber of his day. For many thousands of fans, for decades, "Shep" talked on the radio late at night, keeping them up way past their bedtimes. He entertained without a script, improvising like a jazz musician, on any and every subject you can imagine. He invented and remains the master of talk radio. Shepherd perpetrated one of the great literary hoaxes of all time, promoting a nonexistent book and author, and then brought the book into existence. He wrote 23 short stories for Playboy , four times winning their humor of the year award, and also interviewed The Beatles for the magazine. He authored several popular books of humor and satire, created several television series and acted in several plays. He is the model for the character played by Jason Robards in the play and movie A Thousand Clowns , as well as the inspiration for the Shel Silverstein song made famous by Johnny Cash, "A Boy Named Sue." Readers will learn the significance of innumerable Shepherd words and phrases, such as "Excelsior, you fathead," and observe his constant confrontations with the America he loved. They will get to know and understand this multitalented genius by peeking behind the wall he built for himself a wall to hide a different and less agreeable persona. Through interviews with his friends, co-workers and creative associates, such as musician David Amram, cartoonist and playwright Jules Feiffer, publisher and broadcaster Paul Krassner, and author Norman Mailer, the book explains a complex and unique genius of our time. "Shepherd pretty much invented talk radio ... What I got of him was a wonder at the world one man could create. I am as awed now by his achievement as I was then." Richard Corliss, Time magazine online

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Although the prolific, multitalented Shepherd (1921-1999) was an actor, author, emcee, recording artist and screenwriter (A Christmas Story), he's remembered by many as a late-night radio raconteur , who for 21 years on New York City's WOR-AM mixed heartland humor and hip, sardonic rants with memories of his Indiana youth. This prismatic portrait affirms Shepherd's position as one of the 20th century's great humorists. Railing against conformity, he forged a unique personal bond with his loyal listeners, who participated in his legendary literary prank by asking bookstores for the nonexistent novel I, Libertine (when Ian Ballantine had Shepherd and Theodore Sturgeon make the fake real, PW called it "the hoax that became a book"). Storyteller Shepherd's grand theme was life itself; Marshall McLuhan called Shepherd's broadcasts "a new kind of novel that he writes nightly." Minus guests and call-ins, it was talk radio, but Shepherd was the only voice, ad-libbing monologues like jazz riffs for a huge following via WOR's 50,000-watt reach. Novelist Bergmann (Rio Amazonas) interviewed 32 people who knew Shepherd or were influenced by him and listened to hundreds of broadcast tapes, inserting transcripts of Shepherd's own words into a "biographical framework" of exhaustive research. 30 b&w photos. (Feb.) Forecast: Shepherd is the subject of several Web sites, and online promotion of this book has been snowballing for the past year. A dedicated audience will clamor for it. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781557836007
Publisher:
Hal Leonard Corporation
Publication date:
02/28/2005
Pages:
496
Product dimensions:
6.08(w) x 9.38(h) x 1.49(d)

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