• American Oz

  • An Astonishing Year Inside Traveling Carnivals at State Fairs & Festivals: Hitchhiking from California to New York, Alaska to Mexico
  • By: Michael Sean Comerford
  • Narrated by: Michael Sean Comerford
  • Length: 10 hrs and 14 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (29 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The world runs on untold stories.

American Oz is a rollicking, gritty, adventurous story of life in the secretive subculture of traveling carnivals. You'll never see your state fair or street festival the same way again.

Comerford writes a bold, inspiring true story of a year working behind the scenes with the colorful characters and legends of carnivals. He shares stories of freaks, a carnival pimp, a tramp gold miner, and the last king of the sideshows. An insulted dunk tank clown is shot. Masked gunmen rob his carnival. And a young showman friend dies on the road.

It's a new classic American road story as he hitchhikes to shows in California, New Jersey, New York, Chicago, Alaska, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, and Florida where he works in a freak show. 

He becomes the number one hitchhiker in the USA and a top agent at the State Fair of Texas. He travels to the lawless foothills of Mexico to see the new face of the American carny. He exposes the truths about immigration, labor abuse, and living between two worlds.

Comerford finds carnival people seeking meaning and love in their lives, and the answers always seem to be somewhere down the road.

©2020 Michael Sean Comerford (P)2021 Michael Sesan Comerford

What listeners say about American Oz

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Fun Listen

What an entertaining and fun listen. The author read the book which is always more interesting to me. Michael is an enthusiastic narrator and makes the reader feel a part of the action. I pass our county fairgrounds each day to and from work - for the past 36 years. Then the one magical week in September always makes me yearn for the carnival life. Michael allows us to do that vicariously through this engrossing book. I was truly sad to reach the end and that's rare for me. So I won't ruin your enjoyment of listening to Michael spin his stories of his year living the roaming carnival life. I strongly recommend this highly entertaining audiobook!!

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Great book!

This was a well-written and thoughtful look at the American carnival industry. The author definitely writes like the award winning journalist that he is, definitely worth the read!!!

2 people found this helpful

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It never slows down

Story keeps flowing from beginning to end. I can still feel the bed bugs biting & the smell of cotton candy.

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  • BG
  • 07-02-22

excellent

A very fascinating look at this great world of the traveling carnival. Well written and read.

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PITTY IS IN ORDER

An expose' about the hardest working, lowest paid, often cheated and mistreated people that you can say are working stiffs.
If there was a caste system in this part of the world these hard working, often addicted, injured and without medical care people
are the lowest rung of the ladder. No, I take that back they are on the dirt, or in the mud under the ladder.
The writer hitchhiked ate with, slept along side, and worked along side these working people for a year while surreptitiously interviewing them and writing down their stories. I really enjoyed the eye-opening and eyepopping entry into to their lives.

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An American Odyssey

The culture of carnivals is something that interests me, so when I came across this book I thought it would scratch that itch. An incredible story of one man's incredible journey across America one carnival at a time. Great stories, intriguing characters, funny and touching. What sets this title apart is the narrator, with a style that was made for the midway, his energy draws you into this captivating tale of the nomadic, carnival life.

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A Fun Ride!

Mr. Cumerford has written a very interesting, honest, gritty portrayal of his travels from "California to NewYork, Alaska to Mexico". The author's clear interest in the people he met and the stories he heard from within the traveling carnivals lead to a fascinating collection of tales. Very Interesting! Through his extensive traveling covering vastly different portions of the US, the feel of the carnivals changed with the geographics, as the locals defined the culture of the carnival. I am a travel junkie and glad I went on this adventure!

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Delightful adventure into the carnival world!

What a delightful tour of the eccentric world of carnies! An incredible adventure for the author and a treat for the rest of us to experience it through his eyes. Read this book!

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Great book!

Had an awesome book club with the author on Zoom. It was so great! Made me love the book even more. The stories and experiences are like no other. You must check it out.

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Move over Richard Henry Dana and John O’Hara!

Comerford, with his immersive journalism road work captures a wide North American world and lives of people barely seen or known… Ohara‘s Gibbsville is replaced by Comerford’s Gibsonton with all of the adventure, emotion and the sublime.

1 person found this helpful