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.