The Dead Guy Interviews, by Michael A. Stusser (2007)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you
want a hardcopy)
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
Michael A. Stusser's book is creative, informative, and entertaining.
Saying that Stusser is a clever an capable writer is like saying Eric
Clapton is "good on the guitar." Stusser has a way with not just words
but composition as well.
Stusser is also a capable and industrious researcher. As a history
buff, I was already familiar with most of the people he "interviewed"
for this book and quite familiar with some. Yet, I learned several new
things about each one.
If you'd like to learn about some of the more influential (or simply
interesting) characters in history, you will want to get this book. The
format--a fictional interview--makes it much easier to read than a
simple dry reciting of facts. The triple-layer wittiness of this book
doesn't exactly hurt, either....
In the fictional interviews, Stusser plays the role of the sometimes
stumbling interviewer. The interviewees variously insult him, make him
wait, or take umbrage at a remark that wasn't intended to offend. These
little riffs are funny. But so are the ones where Stusser updates some
long-dead person on how we do things today. The way he carries it off
makes me guffaw.
Sometimes, Stusser will pose an embarrassing question or ask the
interviewee to explain some paradox, hypocrisy, or colossal blunder. The
replies are in character, and you can hear this person deliver the
retort. Sometimes, the replies are funny because the interviewee still
doesn't get it. Sometimes, they are funny because the reply seems to go
over the interviewer's head. Stusser the author lets Stusser the
interviewer be clueless, sometimes. You just have to laugh.
My top three picks for "best interview" are:
- Albert Einstein
- Sigmund Freud
- J. Edgar Hoover
That's not to say the other 42 are slouchers. They aren't. Some of
them are real gems. The other 42 "interviews" are of:
- Alexander the Great
- Napoléon Bonaparte
- Julius Caesar
- George Washington
- George Washington Carver
- Catherine the Great
- Winston Churchill
- Crazy Horse
- Salvador Dalí
- Charles Darwin
- Emily Dickinson
- Benjamin Franklin
- Genghis Khan
- Vincent van Gogh
- Henry VIII
- Harry Houdini
- Thomas Jefferson
- Joan of Arc
- Robert Johnson
- Frida Kahlo
- Leonardo da Vinci
- Abraham Lincoln
- Mao Tse-tung
- Karl Marx
- Edgar Allan Poe
- William Shakespeare
- Sun Tzu
- Mae West
- Oscar Wilde
If you'd like to liven up a holiday party or some other kind of
get-together, here's an idea. Have people study a character from history
and then be interviewed as that character (preferably by a slightly
If that seems like too much work, then just use this book as a script
and do a couple of short skits from it. See if you can get the right
gestures and accents to go with the snarly replies. Maybe even wear
period costumes and use props (the more ridiculous, the better). You'll
have a blast. And if that seems like too much work, then just read this
book. You'll get some easy laughs and learn some things, too.