Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Book Review The Dead Guy Interviews by Michael A. Stussser


The Dead Guy Interviews Conversations with 45 of the Most Accomplished, Notorious, and Deceased Personalities in History, by Michael A. Stusser, is a satirical look at those who died but left their mark on the world. These are folks who will be spoken of for generations to come.

Give the author credit for doing homework. Prior to each chat, a brief history is given as to why the person in question should be remembered. This is extremely helpful. Some celebrities are more known than others.

The table of contents is also useful. Since people are listed in alphabetical order, one can easily find those interviews most interested in rather than having to sift through other junk first.

It should be noted, however, to take things with salt. Stusser deviates from what actually happened during an interviewee's lifetime and gets down to what modern day readers want to know. At least, what he imagines most care about.

Frida Kahlo, the Mexico City artist equally famous for her work as well as politics, is asked if she ever considered shaving her monobrow. The response is classic Khalo, a failure to answer useless questions of an impertinent reporter who does not recognize her true importance.

Cleopatra is more accepting. As a woman, she understands herself well enough to entice the writer with seduction. The tactic works, as the reaction is felt throughout.

Isadora Duncan gleefully talks about her death by strangulation. In a way, she left this world with the same joie de vivre as when she entered. Although she died at the hands of her own scarf, the visual image is crystal clear.

Abraham Lincoln, our 12th President, discusses his love life. Being a politician, though, he cannot help but bring up his time (albeit shortlived) in office. Yes, the assassination is mentioned. Conspiracy theorists will have more fodder to play with.

Oscar Wilde, perhaps best remembered for The Importance of Being Earnest, recalls how his life was turned upside down by those who didn't understand him. Laws to protect decency made certain relationships illegal, which put many a man in a difficult spot.

Offbeat? Yes. Different? Very. That being said, this book is one you pick up and read anyway. Each interview is self contained, so selections do not overlap. It can be read all at once, or a bit at a time.