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June 8, 2007

Book Notes - David Silverman ("Typo")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that is in some way relevant to their recently published books.

I generally avoid business books. David Silverman's memoir, Typo, The Last American Typesetter or How I Made and Lost $4 Million, is the exception. A roller coaster of emotion, betrayal, and financial horror, the book fascinates with its cautionary tale. Silverman's honest and crisp prose captures his company's downward spiral.

Of the book, the Wall Street Journal wrote:

"TYPO, a memoir about buying a typesetting company, is amusing, appalling, infuriating and wonderfully written."

Preview or download this playlist at iTunes

In his own words, here is David Silverman's Book Notes essay for his memoir, Typo: The Last American Typesetter or How I Made and Lost $4 Million:

Since my book Typo, The Last American Typesetter or How I Made and Lost $4 Million is about the failure of my company and my "American Dream"--the kind of failure that is the business equivalent of falling into a glacier and having to gnaw your own leg off to get out of the crevasse and then drag yourself a hundred miles on the bloody stump to find a pay phone to call collect for help--I think you will notice a certain trend in my musical selections.

Fight Test, The Flaming Lips

“It's all a mystery. Cause I'm a man not a boy and there are thing you have to face and can't avoid.” That pretty much sums up the book. It was also the song that I listened to over and over again while drinking in Prague after losing everything. With time, even the worst memories of throwing up on my pillow became sweet (the memory, not the puke).

Journey Home, Kokomo

Such a weird tune. Orchestral. Slavic. Banned by the BBC (really). It is the song that plays in my head when I think about the first chapter and my drive out to Clarinda, IA. It also fits for various points in the book where I’m driving along hoping against reality that things are finally OK (and they aren't, they never are.)

Bad Bad Whiskey, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells

Alcohol is a constant theme in the book. My father. My business partner. And I try quite a sampling of it myself. That, and it's the best I f'$%@'d-up-but-good song from the best @#$%ing blues album of all time.

Kansas City, Wilbert Harrison

There's a lot of versions of this blues standard that was written by two white guys. And this is my favorite. Since the book is set in the Midwest, not far from K.C, it's a good pick.

Wonderamaland, Dramarama

These guys are one of the all time under-recognized rock stars. This song is about the TV show Wonderama that I used to watch as a kid. Bob McAllister came to an IBM family day once and I think I got a balloon toy.

Under Pressure, Queen and Bowie

The book is about the 25-hour days of trying to make my company a success and then, when that wasn't going to happen, to keep from going under like a torpedoed Love Boat. It's a classic and Vanilla Ice knew it, so it must be so.

We Are The Champions and Another One Bites The Dust, Queen

Queen manages to have a lock on success and loss as it goes in rock opera. These two cover that entire dynamic range from $200 ties to 8 ramen for a buck that I went through. Oh, and we used to play Eye of The Tiger in marching band in high school. Did Freddy Mercury actually score the sheet music for the marching 4-valved euphonium? We may never know.

Cut Me Off and Drank So Much (Just Feel Stupid), Gear Daddies

Finding a song about drinking too much is like waiting in line for a bagel on Sunday in New York, easy to do and usually a waste of time. However, the Gear Daddies have got it right by reminding us that the best advice is to not have that drink, and that we will ignore that advice. Also, my friend Tim went to see them live once and only too late realized he was watching the Gear Dads and not the Gear Daddies. There is a lesson in there, I just don’t know what.

Diving Duck, Rockola

This is for the scene in the movie version of the book where I almost put my drunken business partner's head through a wall. Rock on Rockola.

Rehab, Amy Winehouse

Sticking with the drinking theme, and the rehab element in the book, this is a nice, angry, angry, angry song.

I Used to Be a Millionaire, Mark Silverman

"I used to be a Millionaire and now I'm just a jerk." I am no relation to this guy, but he seems to have my story down pat.

No Depression, Uncle Tupelo

This would be a good song to listen to after finishing the book, or for the end credits in my much imagined movie version of the book. I'm thinking Wilem Dafoe, Christopher Walken, or maybe Alan Alda for my business partner Dan. And maybe Toby Maguire or Elijah Wood for me. Feel free to contact them.

David Silverman and Typo links:

the author's website
the book's website at the publisher

an excerpt from the book
video interview with the author
Fox Business Now interview with the author
Business Week video interview with the author
the author's story at Salon

Typo named one of Entrepreneur's "10 biz books to read this summer"

reviews of Typo:

The Startup Garden
The Wall Street Journal

also at Largehearted Boy:

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)

Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
guest book reviews
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)

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