I didn't think that the book was what I had hoped for
I've heard this a few times regarding this book, and I'm really curious, what did
you hope for?
All in all, John covered most of Don's performance material, both in technique, and in approach. He analysed Don's performances and gave his thoughts about why things were performed the way they were. The main criticism I have heard is that Jon's analysis did not always reflect Don's intent.
For whatever reason, Don was unable or reluctant to give his intent behind each piece. Jon's theories may not be accurate to Don's actual approach, but they are valid from his viewpoint and worthy of study and reflection.
Most of the people who have complained (and in some instances reviewed) this book do so from a personal stand-point. They echo what Brian commented, "it wasn't what they hoped for," but none answer the obvious question.
you hope for in any book about a personality? Their tricks? Their gags? Their approach? Their history? Their background?
Jon's biggest failure in writing this book was perhaps in selecting the subject. If he had instead written about some performer that no one personally knew (as in unknown or deceased subjects such as those written about by Todd Karr, Mike Caveney et al), it is quite probable no one would have had any complaints...
Jon had the temerity to write about a subject from his perspective... Whatever the circumstances behind the project, ultimately In A Class By Himself: The Legacy of Don Alan
is the only collection of Don's material in print. Yes, there a few gaps for material discovered post-printing, and, yes, he didn't explain the Garbage Can Act (most of which can be seen in the S.A.M. clips), and, yes, perhaps more of Don's voice should have been included in the book, but reviewers have failed most notably to review the book on its own merits.
Regardless of its flaws, In A Class By Himself: The Legacy of Don Alan
is one of the best books on creating and presenting close-up pieces (note that I did not say "tricks") for paying customers. It is entertaining, well-written and at times thought-provoking. There is an enormous amount to be learned from this book about performing close-up in the real world, and it is of great value to anyone wishing to learn how to incorporate their audience into their performances. I wish the reviewers would be more harsh with the "teach-a-trick" authors, perhaps suggesting them to look behind the mechanics.
Then again, I prefer to fail brilliantly trying something new that will force my growth as a performer, than succeed in mediocrity by going through the motions without ever considering the details that make a performance sparkle.
Give me details, challenge your own notions and what you have heard. Challenge Jon for his analysis. Draw your own conclusion.
Until you have put the theory into practice, the theory is worthless... Put in the time and effort to validate your thoughts, or at least challenge them to ensure that your hypothesis is accurate.
Trust me, your audiences will know the difference if you spend the time. Don did. Jon does. You can too.
I eagerly look forward to reading the next brilliant failure, maybe I will learn something I can use.