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A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel…
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A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel Silverstein (2007)

by Lisa Rogak

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You know what? I'm giving up. Shel Silverstein was, I suspect, a fascinating man, but you wouldn't know it from this biography. The author does little synthesis of the facts and quotes she collected and the whole thing sounds like an eighth-grader's report about a famous person. "X did this. Then he moved here. His friend said '________.' He agreed."

I don't read many biographies--a few memoirs, maybe, but few biographies--so I don't know if this is normal, but I suspect not. Because the writing is flat, flat, flat. The writing was at its most energetic and engrossing in her introduction, when she was writing about why she chose Silverstein as her next subject. She knows how to write personally about someone--unfortunately, she didn't bother carry that through to her subject.

Her previous biography was of The DaVinci Code's Dan Brown. What did I expect, really? ( )
  librarybrandy | Mar 30, 2013 |
What's most enjoyable about this book, clearly, is the subject. The centerpiece of this biography is Shel Silverstein's magical ability to entertain both young and old with his stories, songs, pictures, and poems. Meanwhile, the writing is trite and hackneyed; Rogak is little more than a pulp biographer, and is clearly outclassed by her subject. The best thing I can say about this book is that it made me want to track down some of Shel Silverstein's more obscure books and recordings. ( )
  TurtleBoy | Apr 20, 2008 |
"A Boy Named Shel" is really a mixed bag. On one hand, it is an incredibly interesting read, due entirely to its subject matter - Shel Silverstein was a fascinating individual who lived life to the fullest, and his passion for creation and zest for the here-and-now clearly comes through in the telling of his life.

On the other hand, Rogak is a horrible author and biographer. The biography itself is comprised largely of quotes by people who knew him, and in that respect I believe Rogak should only really claim editorial (as opposed to authorial) rights. Her actual writing is poorly organized and even more poorly executed, and would greatly detract from a less luminous subject than Silverstein. It is unfortunate that such a creative and successful person fell prey to such a biographer. ( )
1 vote Luxx | Jan 9, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312353596, Hardcover)

Few authors are as beloved as Shel Silverstein. His inimitable drawings and comic poems have become the bedtime staples of millions of children and their parents, but few readers know much about the man behind that wild-eyed, bearded face peering out from the backs of dust jackets.

In A Boy Named Shel, Lisa Rogak tells the full story of a life as antic and adventurous as any of his creations. A man with an incurable case of wanderlust, Shel kept homes on both coasts and many places in between---and enjoyed regular stays in the Playboy Mansion. Everywhere he went he charmed neighbors, made countless friends, and romanced almost as many women with his unstoppable energy and never-ending wit.

His boundless creativity brought him fame and fortune---neither of which changed his down-to-earth way of life---and his children’s books sold millions of copies. But he was much more than “just” a children’s writer. He collaborated with anyone who crossed his path, and found success in a wider range of genres than most artists could ever hope to master. He penned hit songs like “A Boy Named Sue” and “The Unicorn.” He drew cartoons for Stars & Stripes and got his big break with Playboy. He wrote experimental plays and collaborated on scripts with David Mamet. With a seemingly unending stream of fresh ideas, he worked compulsively and enthusiastically on a wide array of projects up until his death, in 1999.

            Drawing on wide-ranging interviews and in-depth research, Rogak gives fans a warm, enlightening portrait of an artist whose imaginative spirit created the poems, songs, and drawings that have touched the lives of so many children---and adults.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:29 -0400)

Shel Silverstein's drawings and comic poems are bedtime staples of millions of children, and biographer Rogak tells the story of a life as antic and adventurous as any of his creations. A man with an incurable case of wanderlust, Shel kept homes on both coasts and many places in between--and enjoyed regular stays in the Playboy Mansion. Everywhere he went he charmed neighbors, made countless friends, and romanced almost as many women. Much more than "just" a children's writer, he collaborated freely and found success in a wider range of genres than most artists ever attempt. He penned hit songs like "A Boy Named Sue," and got his big break with Playboy. He wrote experimental plays and collaborated on scripts with David Mamet. With a seemingly unending stream of fresh ideas, he worked compulsively and enthusiastically on a wide array of projects up until his death in 1999. --From publisher description.… (more)

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