According to NPR commentator Garfield, the American Dream is less about white picket fences and two cars in the garage and...

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WAKING UP SCREAMING FROM THE AMERICAN DREAM: A Roving Reporter's Dispatches from the Bumpy Road to Success

According to NPR commentator Garfield, the American Dream is less about white picket fences and two cars in the garage and far more about ""the pursuit of happiness."" As the humorist proves, the pursuit, while often noble, is just as often fruitless. Garfield divides his book into four parts, including the quest for ""world-changing"" ideas; get-rich-quick schemes; his trials and tribulations in pursuit of the American Dream; and a selection of his radio commentaries. Although he may be best known for his droll sense of humor, the tales in this book are not, as Garfield himself points out, always meant to evoke laughter. There is, for instance, the story of cosmetics entrepreneur Jan Stuart, who, after initial success in the industry, launched a hunger strike to protest the way in which big business squeezed him out. Similarly, the piece entitled ""A Whorehouse Christmas""--about legal prostitution in Nevada--ends with the lament of a 21-year-old hooker wondering aloud why God put her on earth. At times, Garfield can be glib to the point of offensiveness, as in his story about Charles Wixom, of the Institute of Food Technologies, a frozen-food development company, who has the misfortune of having to compete with the genocide in Yugoslavia for attendees to his news conferences. Ultimately, the problems with the book are those that afflict many such collections: a lack of continuity, combined with a poorly defined overall concept. Garfield is best when writing about himself, and the book is partly redeemed by the section on his own pursuits, which contains essays on tourism, house and car shopping, and hunting, all in a Dave Barry--ish vein.

Pub Date: June 6, 1997

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1997