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Touch and Go: A Memoir
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Touch and Go: A Memoir

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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  177 ratings  ·  53 reviews
At nearly ninety-five, Studs Terkel has written about everyone's life, it seems, but his own. In Touch and Go, he offers a memoir that---embodying the spirit of the man himself---is youthful, vivacious, and enormous fun.
Paperback, 269 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by New Press, The (first published November 1st 2007)
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Ron
Feb 12, 2008 Ron rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: My kids, your kids. Anyone who thinks and enjoys people.
This is a great conversationalist's book. Reading it is like talking with a friend over a beer or a glass of wine. Studs has been around a long time and seen a lot of changes. He is a lover of humanity and it comes through in everything he talks about. This is a book that will guide the reader to other authors and thinkers - and not necessarily the one's that agree with you - or with Terkel. He helps the reader to appreciate what has come before us and to look foreward to what's coming next. He ...more
Oleg Kagan
"Touch and Go: A Memoir" can be placed with Gore Vidal's "Point to Point Navigation" on the shelf of sometimes crisp, sometimes rambling loosely chronological anecdotes of famous leftist public intellectuals.

While Vidal was a part an author foremost, Studs Terkel was a radioman. In "Touch and Go," the man himself tries to examine the roots of his abilities, and other purposes/cross-purposes/no-purposes by describing his family's hotel and his role in running the desk/chatting with the regulars,
...more
Andrew
Studs Terkel's memoir is a cultural history of the 20th century, coverging his career as radio broadcaster-author-actor from the 1930s through the end of the century. Terkel will probably be best remembered for his oral histories, which he started as an offshoot of the WFMT program guide, which published excerpts from his interviews. Andre Schiffrin suggested doing a book on an American "village" in the way Jan Myrdal had written about peoples' lives in "Report from a Chinese Village" about the ...more
Jennifer
Nov 20, 2008 Jennifer rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves irrascible story tellers with the gift of gab
Recommended to Jennifer by: Sara
Though I enjoyed reading this book, a slightly wandering collection of Stud's autobiographical musings, it made me hungrier to go back and read his other works like Hard Times, Race, etc. Reading this, I felt like I was sitting across from Studs at the Billy Goat Tavern, listening as he tried to tell the story of his life but was constantly distracted by the lives of others he has encountered. A story from his childhood reminds him of six other stories, five of which he tells. The result feels r ...more
Neil
We lost a great one in Studs Terkel, but this memoir to me unfortunately lives up to its title: it's a bit touch and go. There are some remarkable sections and then some that seem kind of disjointed and out of the flow of the rest of the book. Studs is rambling a bit in parts. In other parts, you just don't feel like you're getting the whole story.

Still, I doubt I'll be able to do better if I make it into my nineties. This doesn't keep up with all of the remarkable work that Terkel did earlier i
...more
Adam
The author of the Prologue writes “I’m also very impressed to see that [Studs’] feistiness, his humor, and his incredible memory have been totally undiminished by age” (xi). Those three things are exactly what impressed me about Studs when I attended his 90th birthday party, a public event at the Chicago History Museum. I hadn’t read him, or even heard of him at the time, but my professor had urged my classmates and I to attend, explaining that the man with the funny name was a Chicago instituti ...more
Jay
Probably not the best book to start with in reading Studs Terkel, his memoir wanders quite a bit, with anecdotes sometimes pithy and memorable, sometimes just leftist name dropping. Outside of the few good stories (the ones about Stud's Place and about his wife are most memorable to me), you read a lot about what he thought about people, but mostly these are things you could have guessed if you knew any of his history. On audio, many of these stories didn't have the ability to capture the listen ...more
Eric
I'm embarrassed to admit that, although I have heard Studs on the radio many times and read several short pieces by him, this is the first full book of his which I have read. I'm sorry I waited so long. This is a memoir. He does talk about himself in it, but the majority of his time is spent talking about other people who meant something to him along the way, either good or bad. He has an impressive list of heros and role models and I'm betting you've never heard of most of them. From time to ti ...more
Harley
Aug 17, 2010 Harley rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: writers, leaders and other communicators
Touch and Go is a brilliant, insightful memoir filled with poetic language and great stories by the legendary Studs Terkel. And the amazing thing is that he was 94 when he dictated the book or should I say carried on a conversation about his life.
I first encountered Studs Terkel in the 1970's through his oral history of work. A professor of mine, Nickolas Lindsay, son of Vachel Lindsay, was interviewed for the book. A radio and TV show host early in his career, Terkel was black-listed during the
...more
Mike
Studs Terkel stood up for gay rights, racial equality, and quality journalism early and often. I enjoyed hearing how he charted his way in the new medium of television with his show Studs' Place. He is quite eloquent in his emphasis on the importance of knowing your history and how little modern day America does. Otherwise, we can be lead around anyway others see fit. He discusses his disarming interview style where his fumbling with technology (his tape recorder) can have the interviewee feel n ...more
Johnsergeant
Narrated by Norman Dietz
Unabridged: 9 hrs and 55 mins

Publisher's Summary
At nearly 95, Studs Terkel has written about everyone's life, it seems, but his own. In Touch and Go, he offers a memoir that, embodying the spirit of the man himself, is youthful, vivacious, and enormous fun.

Terkel begins by taking us back to his early childhood with his father, mother, and two older brothers, describing the hectic life of a family trying to earn a living in Chicago. He then goes on to recall his own experi
...more
Riley
This memoir taught me a lot about Studs Terkel's background that I hadn't known. (I always assumed that he had gotten his start as a journalist, not through the theater.) Published just before his death, this book contains a lot of materials from other works and was almost certainly ghost written, but was still really enjoyable.
Laurie
I was excited to read this for book club. It sounded like it could be full of amazing stories, but it fell short for me. Through all of the first half of the book I was questioning whether I could push through and finish. It reminded me of Kerouac's writing - jumping around and never quite holding onto one story for more than a page or so.

The 2nd half was more enjoyable -- meaning I enjoyed reading some his stories and they began to connect with the next thing he mentioned, and so on. In the end
...more
Jimmy Tarlau
A fun reminiscence from what I only knew as an oral historian. I didn't know about his TV show, "Stud's Place and his radio show that entertained Chicago for many years. He wrote this when he was in his mid 90s and it is not so much an autobiography as a stream of consciousness account of different episodes of his life. I enjoyed it quite a bit and would've liked it more if I knew more about Chiago.
Barrie Collins
I enjoyed reading Studs on himself and his many subjects and acquaintances, great raconteur, I love his recorded interviews. Speak Truth to Power - one of his favourite sayings, still relevant today. Read this book to get a feel for what has happened in the US over the last 100 years or so, Studs is in his 90's now. He went through the great depression and Maccarthyism, much else. The beginning chapter rambles a little but Studs soon gets into his stride, not great prose but readable history wit ...more
Kay
The best way to engage this book is to listen to the audio book read by Norman Diel ? According to Stud's barber, also my husband's barber, Norman sounds just like Stud's and he even does some mean imitations of Ma Joad and others that add to the delight. One strong recommendation is that you listen to the entire 8 discs of the book. The last chapter on the American alzheimers and "noone laughed" are priceless and important views on where our democracy has gone off the rails. There is noone like ...more
Raymond
I finished Touch and Go some time back. I just didn't enter it in here for whatever reason seemed appropriate, or encompassing at the time. I've since passed the book on, so I don't have it here for referencing. Let me just say that Terkel is Chicago's blessing and a general delight.

Studs covers a lot of ground, he's consciously lived rather than merely existed, as so many of us are wont to do. His portrait of his times and the people he's met is sharp and without any vindictiveness.

I recommen
...more
Don Weidinger
i tape therefore i am, please God help me sell, a progressive viewpoint, stories of VP Wallace 40-44, admired communism and Saul Alinsky mentioned repeatedly and no 'rules for radicals', no memory and no knowledge, need for mutual respect and self-esteem yet no mention of concerns for state control and centralized authority with lack of individual liberty, excessive belief in groups with no mention of morality of groups, despised Ayn Rand, no mention of who selects winners and losers, Oh Lord m ...more
Marcy
I'm so sorry, everyone who read this book and loved it. After 67 pages, I felt like I was reading a book in another language. I was incredibly frustrated! I could not relate to most of the people Studs was talking about; I had no previous knowledge about Chicago and its people. I had a hard time following his life, which I was understanding, because he kept throwing in name after name of people I had never heard of! I gave up; I never give up! I think of myself as a reader, and I feel totally il ...more
Thomas
I listened to the audio version, which is extremely well read. The narrator speaks just as Terkel thinks and writes - in stream of consciousness. One has to listen hard to keep the mind from wandering as the 95-year old Terkel moves from topic to topic and personality to personality. But this is a vintage work as much for the random walk down the twentieth century as for insights into Terkel's life and career.
e smith
Its nice to read about an individual who's main interest in humanity does not involve giving them a carrot of $1,000,000, locking them in a house and then spying on the fallout. Studs deeply loves people...all people...all big and small people...and short and tall, rich and stupid, un-eloquent, passionate, un-passionate and average and sub par and bestial and beautiful..people for their very human humaness
Jean
Great stuff from a Chicago treasure whose voice is sorely missed. As is typical with Studs, this memoir is more about the people he’s met than about his own life story. It’s filled with interesting stories about the famous and not-famous that have crossed his path, and every story has a pointed lesson. But I never tire of his message. Great choice of narrator; he really captured Studs’ tone and inflection.
Bryan
First half--boring; second half--unbelievable. Love studs's writing.
Kathy
Studs Terkel is a Chicago icon. I knew of him and wanted to learn more about his life. I liked how he was engaged in a lot of progressive causes. After listening to his story, I could see myself sitting down with him and shotting the shit. At times the story was a bit rambly and there were stories about progressive heroes and heroines that I wasn't familiar with.
Mary
I would love to give more stars to this book, but I had to knock it down a couple because there are several passages that revisit scenes from other Terkel books I've read and loved, so it didn't have quite the punch for me. However, I still wish Studs was my grampa, and it's a great history of lefty activism, community organizing, TV and radio in the 20th century.
Michael
Terkel's writing style requires some patience at first (much of the content originated from tape recordings), but you'll find plenty of gems here, stories that encapsulate his life and "ordinary" America. He lived with an eye towards justice, human dignity, and friendship amid the hardships of life. Nobody can read Studs Terkel without gaining something.
dirt
Studs Terkel made me realize I am proud to be a commie leftist pinko.

The only issue I had with this book were the last few essays where he was played the starring role of Old Man in the tired old drama Railing Against Youth.

The rest of the book was an amazing foray through Studs' life intertwined with the history he lived through.
Nick
Terkel steps out from behind the tape recorder and tells us about himself--his diagnosis of what is wrong with U.S. society today, that we have hypnotized ourselves into a national amnesia about not only our history but also our goals and values, rings true. Highly recommended.
Darlene
What a life. Studs was born in 1912, so this memoir is as much about history as it is about Terkel himself. The book has a conversational, reminiscent feel. My only complaint about the book is that it includes a fair amount of material pulled from his previous books.
Jana
Wow. I love Studs Terkel's other books but this was definitely "touch and go" -- incomprehensible in the way it randomly moves from one subject and person to another. I was listening to the audio book and couldn't follow it at all.
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Terkel won the Pulitzer prize in 1985 for his interviews with ordinary people in such books as Working, The Good War, and Hard Times. Often called an Oral Historian, Studs Terkel preferred to be known for playing music on the radio.
More about Studs Terkel...
Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do The Good War: An Oral History of World War II Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression Division Street: America Race: How Blacks And Whites Think And Feel About The American Obsession

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“How come you don't work fourteen hours a day? Your great-great-grandparents did. How come you only work the eight-hour day? Four guys got hanged fighting for the eight-hour day for you.” 17 likes
“What I bring to the interview is respect. The person recognizes that you respect them because you're listening. Because you're listening, they feel good about talking to you. When someone tells me a thing that happened, what do I feel inside? I want to get the story out. It's for the person who reads it to have the feeling . . . In most cases the person I encounter is not a celebrity; rather the ordinary person. "Ordinary" is a word I loathe. It has a patronizing air. I have come across ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. (p. 176)” 11 likes
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