NONFICTION

The Last Days of Letterman

Fayetteville Mafia. Sept. 2018. 300p. photos. ISBN 9781949024005. pap. $24.99. TV
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Ryan (Thirtysomething at Thirty) focuses on the final six weeks of the Late Show with David Letterman in this oral history. Combining interviews with more than 20 Late Show crew members (though, sadly, not Letterman or sidekick/band leader Paul Shaffer) with a close viewing of the show (courtesy of his DVR), Ryan recaps and analyzes the last 28 episodes wrapping up Letterman's 33-year late night career. Truly a star-studded affair, these shows featured A-list celebrities, the Obamas, and longtime friends of the show as well as top-notch musical guests. Ryan illustrates that the guests weren't there just to promote themselves but also to pay tribute to the host. Likewise, musical guests played Letterman-requested classics instead of new singles (Tracy Chapman covered "Stand by Me"; Hootie and the Blowfish performed "Hold My Hand"). Each recap is bolstered by reminiscences from writers, producers, and directors detailing the behind-the-scenes action (and antics) involved with sending off one of television's biggest stars. However, there are too many voices at play, resulting in an oral history in which the participants talk over one another.
VERDICT Sure to please Letterman superfans, but the narrow focus may put off casual readers.

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