I Wanna Be Literated #241

I Wanna Be Literated #241

Friday, 25 June 2021

It Never Ends: A Memoir with Nice Memories!
by Tom Scharpling

I don’t think I’ve ever waited so long in anticipation for a book. Being a Best Show listener for years now (which would still make me a junior, by most standards), I’ve been looking forward to this book since host Tom Scharpling first mentioned it in 2019. I can’t believe it’s been so long, but here it is, It Never Ends is among us.

Listeners of the Best Show know that the show is really its host Tom Scharpling. The comedian and writer has made a 3 hour broadcasting chunk his own for several decades now, and the show has been evolving since its inception. What started as simply hours of music became music with the occasional comedy bits with his comedy partner Jon Wurster, then adding Scharpling’s candid remarks, and then callers also building the Best Show universe. The show was way ahead of its time and is now all of these things reflected through the eyes of Scharpling.

For a show that’s been around for so long, it’s interesting to note that we don’t know much about its host. As a private person, we get only the slightest glimpse into his life, and his occasional moaning (OK fine, make that constant moaning) about menial things like candy bars and how pizza should be sliced, but really, the man is still an enigma, which is what makes him so intriguing. What’s underneath this on-air persona, this self-described crabapple? This is what It Never Ends helps uncover.

In a dangerous move, Scharpling dedicates the entire first chapter to how he set out to make this a truly great book. Scharpling is a gifted writer, but I became worried he would raise the bar too much. What would he have to do to write a book that would interest or appeal to a reader who had never heard of him? The answer is to put it all in and see if it sticks.

It Never Ends is a treasure trove of stories for fans of the Best Show. In its 280 pages Tom tells stories that we’ve heard on the show before or that he’s alluded to, but he also drops major bombs on the reader, like his struggles with mental health, his multiple hospitalizations in psychiatric wards, and even…brace for it…that Tom Scharpling is not his real name. The book jumps back and forth between stories that are sweet, triumphant, hilarious, and heartbreaking. As a fan, it truly gave me an insight into Scharpling I never throught I’d get. And, as much as it can be frustrating for me as a listener hearing him basically punch in the dark on his show, this got to the root of all that.  He’s just a guy working hard to fulfill his dreams. The very next show I listened to after reading this book, it felt like I was hearing a completely different person. It Never Ends just got to me. And like he said on Marc Maron’s podcast, I just wanted to walk up to him, open my arms, and say, “come here, you.”

I’m not quite sure this is mission accomplished for Tom. This is a book someone unfamiliar with him might not be able to appreciate. But why would he want to appeal to the masses? Mass appeal doesn’t mean “good.” Look at Billy Joel. But, if you know who he is, you’ll find his unique voice all over these pages and you’ll laugh and cry. And if you’re a fan of the Best Show, this book is simply essential.

Get it from Abrams books.

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