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A silly self-help narrative by a radio talk-show host whose charm fails to survive the perilous journey to the printed page. Farber here tries to address everyday social situations wherein a conversationalist might feel intimidated. However, his advice is undermined by weak anecdotes that are cavalier in their disregard for accurate detail, in addition to some weary--and very aged--gags. One of these features Toscanini being invited by a rich woman to ""play at a garden party,"" where he supposedly accepts less money if he doesn't have to mingle with guests. Besides its high improbability, what was Toscanini supposed to play, according to Farber? The entire NBC Symphony? There are also many jokes with Jewish themes featured here, with an unconsciously degrading tone. Farber says the only way he managed to concentrate on a rabbi's sermon was to translate it simultaneously into Spanish, then accepted praise for his concentrated air during the service. Worse are his recollections of Elie Wiesel. Need readers pay money to find out that Wiesel ""will never be confused with Buddy Hackett no matter how crowded the room""? Moreover, in another of Farber's anecdotes, he relates that at a Holocaust memorial service, he pretended to translate a speech into Danish, but, in fact, since he didn't know that language, offered the audience faulty Norwegian. Farber attempting spiritual philosophy is less like Jonathan Livingston Seagull than what the seagull leaves behind: ""One wonders if an ant really understands the planetary globe. One wonders if the gull really appreciates the ocean he spears fish out of."" People will talk, but not about this one.

Pub Date: June 29th, 1987
Publisher: Morrow