The...book is in equal measure disorienting, surprising and at times even oddly touching. For those who had intermittent exposure to Stern in his scabrous 1990s heyday but did not follow him to SiriusXM, it produces intense cognitive dissonance, like checking in with a snarling high school bully who has somehow become a gentle and supportive youth pastor ... Many of the interviews are outstanding. Stern’s decades in radio have unquestionably honed in him the near-mystical ability to get a guest talking freely, which is much, much harder than it looks. Even stripped of his voice—a velvety purr that remains one of the great radio voices—the interviews have palpable chemistry. The interviews with comedians and talk show hosts, it seems to me, are especially fine. Collectively they serve as an oral history of contemporary comedy in America. They offer substantial insight into craft ... the book implicitly raises thorny questions about responsibility, agency and forgiveness, especially in the context of #MeToo ... Howard Stern Comes Again is perfectly of its time.
For anyone who still thinks of Stern as a jokey voyeur, overgrown teenager and smutmeister, he would like you to know how much he’s evolved. He’s become more sensitive. He’s in therapy, to the point where it becomes a constant refrain. He feels his subjects’ pain. Which might be problematic if he weren’t still such a sharp, funny, conversational sparring partner. Bragging rights for Howard Stern Comes Again really do go to Donald Trump, who is far and away its most arresting subject ... It matters a lot how this handsomely produced, notably well-edited book is ingested. I don’t recommend reading it straight through. That will make it seem long and repetitive, with Stern frequently hitting on his favorite themes—which is to say, the ones that have the most to do with him. He likes asking about masturbation, money, making it big and psychotherapy, all of which demonstrate more narcissism than curiosity. It’s much better to pick the book up and choose interview subjects at random. And don’t do it on the basis of your pre-existing interest in the person ... The real standouts are people who are thrown off guard by the fact that Stern has found out so much about them ... It’s the intimacy Stern establishes with his subjects that makes this collection worthwhile, as when Jon Stewart opens up about the father who abandoned his family. The stories Stern elicits are astonishing ... It’s unfortunate if authentic that [borderline racist] queries remained in the book’s otherwise slimmed-down transcripts. And even for his most ardent fans, his ways of talking about girls and hotness may no longer be part of his charm.
...what Howard Stern Comes Again underscores for those who might only view him as the prurient Pied Piper of his early career is his evolution from self-absorbed, mean-spirited attack dog to a thoughtful enquirer with genuine interest in his interview subjects.That the book is a gorgeous compendium—a bit like a mini-coffee table construct—is testament to Stern’s seriousness about the topic ... reading these interviews instead of hearing them in their natural habitat elevates the process to a different level of engagement—wanting to guess and hope what Stern will ask next (and this is a guy who isn’t afraid to delve) ... While there is no reasonable way to parse the 1,500-plus interviews Stern said he’s conducted during his time at SiriusXM...Howard Stern Comes Again compiles a laudable overview.
Whether in snippets from a variety of people on topics ranging from religion to drug use, or in the longer, several-page interviews, Stern does know how to get his subjects to reveal themselves for the audience’s entertainment. And, of course, he willingly sheds his own inhibitions, not that there’s much to disclose after all this time. Vintage Stern, well seasoned.
At times, all the patting himself on the back Stern does about his personal growth grows wearisome. He can still struggle to see the forest for the trees ... Stern introduces his Gwyneth Paltrow interview touting his more enlightened views on women as though it is a personal cause ...One page later he shares with Paltrow that as a teen he enjoyed pleasuring himself to thoughts of her mother, actress Blythe Danner... Is Stern truly promoting any kind of feminist stance with such bawdy nonsense? The many sections devoted to Donald Trump, stretching back 20 years before he was elected president, are likely to confound, as well ... So, is Stern just kidding himself that he has achieved a new level or respectability with his interviews? Yes and no. Anyone reading Comes Again will certainly need a high level of tolerance for random juvenilia and similar lines of questioning and commentary...That said, Stern engenders a level of trust from his subjects that has finally allowed him access to the A-listers he has long craved to place himself amongst ... Stern also wants us to know...that he’s human. A fuller exploration of that story alone might make for a better, more focused book. As it stands, it’s just another facet of this sprawling work by one baffling and often contradictory figure.
His honest conversations with actors, music legends, and others represent an eclectic cross-section of celebrities, and his questions range from the piercing to the downright ridiculous ... the author’s personal growth and enduring legacy as a broadcast pioneer and unique profiler are on full display. A surprisingly warm and consistently outspoken retrospective for both fans and celebrity followers.