Jennifer's Reviews > Touch and Go: A Memoir

Touch and Go by Studs Terkel
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Nov 01, 2008

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Recommended to Jennifer by: Sara
Recommended for: anyone who loves irrascible story tellers with the gift of gab
Read in November, 2008

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 real and warm yet it also somewhat avoids true self-examination.

On the other hand, Stud's sheer breadth of knowledge on history and popular culture of the 20th century (especially the 30's/40's/50's) is amazing and it made me want to know more about all the things he talks about--especially in regards to progressive movements and to the crazy political world of Chicago.

At the end, it's hard not to hear Stud's weariness at our country's horrific case of historical "Alzheimer's," and his words seem prophectic:

"Haven't we learned anything from the Great Depression of the thirties? Haven't we learned that the Free Market (read: individual) fell on its face and begged a benign federal government (a gathering of minds) to help?" (p. 252)

When Studs died on October 31st, I felt so sad that he hadn't lived through the election--especially given the result. However, it suddenly occurs to me that it might have been watching history repeat itself this last September that truly broke his heart.
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Quotes Jennifer Liked

Studs Terkel
“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)”
Studs Terkel, Touch and Go: A Memoir


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