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Are You Famous?: Touring America with Alaska's Fiddling Poet    by Ken Waldman order for
Are You Famous?
by Ken Waldman
Order:  USA  Can
Catalyst Press, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Are You Famous? is the story of a man with a very complicated life but with a very straightforward goal in life. He wants to play his fiddle, recite poetry (his own) and give talks - to entertain! The saga of his years' long struggle to achieve this should be simply telling it like it is. Hard work on his part but ho hum to read of it.

Not so. Author (poet, songwriter, raconteur, and fiddle player) Ken Waldman has his life in the order in which he wants it and as he recounts his travels throughout the United States and Canada, the reader is impressed at first by his single-mindedness and then by his determination to continue his grueling pace. He does it in spite of facing financial ruin, and has been called, by a Milwaukee newspaper, 'a one-man Prairie Home Companion.'

How he keeps his gigs' dates in order is a miracle and enchanting to read about. His gentle soul has endeared him to many and he has friends almost everywhere he ventures to perform - people who welcome him into their homes with invitations to stay as long as he likes. He considers himself first and foremost an Alaskan as well as being a beloved entertainer. He has been treated like royalty at times, and at others (by the people who hire him) as though he were something stuck to someone's shoe.

Waldman gives tips on places to stay along his routes as well as good places to get a meal. The most valuable advice he has is for budding entertainers and what he feels they must go through to achieve their goals. He has written books and cut CDs of his music and peddles those wherever he can to help him continue what he feels is his life's work. Ken Waldman is an unusual man it would be a pleasure to know. If you haven't met him, read Are You Famous? and crawl inside the mind of a talented man with a mission.

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