Book Review: “Unbelievable” is Unbelievably Awful

Publication date:  September 2017

Review, short version:  Four skunks out of a possible four.

Long version:

reginald-01 croppedOne of the many tragedies of the 1992 Los Angeles riots was the near death of Reginald Denny, a truck driver who was in the wrong place and the wrong time.  Denny was pulled from his truck by several men and beaten with fists, kicks and bricks.

The beating was broadcast live from a freelance news team’s helicopter and was eventually seen all over the world, going viral before anyone had coined, or even conceived of, the phrase.

A tragedy for Reginald Denny – and a gold mine for that news team, Bob and Marika Tur, parents of Katy Tur, the author of Unbelievable.

And not just Bob and Marika – Grandma Tur got in on the gold mine, as well.  “At onegold coins point,” recounts Tur, Grandma “was flipping video of the Reginald Denny beating for five grand a use – helping to turn my parents into on-paper millionaires…We had a seven-figure helicopter, two Porsches, and enough extra cash for biannual ski vacations and a trip or two to Hawaii.”

Nothing like “flipping” a tragedy into some ski and beach time.

This is one background story from author Tur, a reporter for NBC News and MSNBC.  Perhaps she shares this story to explain why she “wanted to chase the news,” how she ended up becoming a TV news reporter, and covered the Trump presidential campaign for 500 days.

i'm a whiner croppedBut don’t know for sure – I stopped reading on page 123, and during that time I was too busy being overwhelmed by Tur’s whining.

Tur whines early, and often, starting on page three:

“More around-the-clock live shots, more airports…I can’t.  I just can’t…I’m never going on vacation.  I’m never seeing my friends.  I’m never getting my bed back…

But wait, there’s more.  Much more:

“I’m exhausted and cold and, at 5:30am, I’ve already been up for an hour.”who cares_01

“The last three months are a blur.  I have forgotten what sleep feels like.  In 120-odd days, I’ve been to more than forty-one different cities in at least nineteen states.”

Following a work-induced breakup with her lover:

“I’ve been too busy to mourn.  It will make me too sad and make this job too difficult.”

stop-whining1“Maybe I am just feeling burnt out.  Time off is getting harder to come by.  There is no such thing as a weekend.  I turned off my personal cell phone a long time ago.  The guilt was just too much.  I can’t face three hundred unread texts from people…”

Would suggesting Tur consider a career change be too obvious?

“Do people think we enjoy living out our lives on the road, dragging our suitcases behind [Trump] all over the country…we have faceless airports, cramped coach seats…every night we’re in yet another random, far-flung hotel…we finally make it to our rooms, exhausted and grumpy.  This job is hell.  On relationships.biggest_whiner_statue_1  On your body.  On your mind.”

I’ll declare a whine-free zone after one particularly articulate passage:

“For god’s sake, I can’t stand in front of a camera every hour until eternity!  It’s cold and it’s wet and – Fuck, I’ve lost it – Jesus Christ, people need to eat!!”

If this is what Tur does with the written word, I shudder to think what she does with the spoken word on TV.

bookNot that I’ve ever seen her on TV.

I’d thought a book with the subtitle of My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History would provide some insights, some insider’s knowledge.  Wrong.  I encountered nothing – up to page 123 – that I hadn’t already heard, seen or read about.

But, as is often the case, Amazon’s readers don’t agree with me – Unbelievable is running at 4.5 stars with 1200+ reviews.

Maybe Tur’s book will be her goldmine.


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