Everyone has dreams of what they want to accomplish in life. Marty Essen’s childhood dream of becoming a herpetologist gave way to his dream of becoming a popular DJ, which led to his dream of becoming a big-time talent manager, which morphed into the dream of becoming an in-demand author and college speaker. While he achieved most of his dreams at various levels, he also realized that he didn’t necessarily have to reach the top to find success or happiness. Sometimes “almost” is close enough.
Hits, Heathens, and Hippos: Stories from an Agent, Activist, and Adventurer is a humorous and inspirational memoir that explores relationships and careers and how seemingly minor events can lead to life-changing results. Compelling stories have filled Marty’s life, and he tells those stories in a conversational style that combines his talents as an award-winning author with his talents as the creator of a one-man stage show that he has performed at hundreds of colleges across the United States.
His stories include:
• Growing up with an over-the-top, born-again Christian father, who prayed aloud in restaurants, thought Satan possessed his Masonic lodge watch, and attempted to faith-heal his old Toyota.
• Becoming the youngest disc jockey in Minnesota history, where he survived an on-air attack from a jealous DJ and learned that rock ’n’ roll and country radio stations have vastly different groupies.
• Running multiple music talent agencies and becoming one of the top young talent managers in America.
• Telling the best lie ever to reel in and marry an amazing woman that the media would later dub as his “intrepid wife.”
• Moving to Montana, where he founded one of the state’s fastest growing independent telephone companies and an unusual baseball league with pro-prospects and out-of-control players.
• Surviving as an outspoken liberal in the most conservative region of Montana and dealing with the death threats and dirty tricks that came with it.
• Heartwarming and humorous stories from his relationships with musicians, governors, senators, and a very special Democratic nominee for President of the United States.
• Traveling to all seven continents in search of rare and interesting wildlife, backpacking with a tribe known for headhunting, and surviving a vicious hippo attack.
Be prepared to be inspired, educated, and entertained!
Idea: This book highlights pivotal events in the author's life, inspiring and entertaining readers with tales of his diverse sets of careers and the range of characters – human and animal – that he encounters along the way.
Prose/Style: Essen is a clear and effective writer. He is self-assured. He has a friendly, natural style with plenty of detail when necessary, especially concerning the animals – wolves, orangutans, octopus – he has encountered in his travels. One of the most eloquent moments in the book occurs when the author and his companions are taken to meet an octopus in a small lodge in Mexico.
Originality: This book is quite original, but at times, the memoir also feels like the author is covering too much ground.
Character Development/Execution: The author is forthcoming and honest. Two of his strongest lifelong interests include music and animals, particularly dogs and snakes, and this book encompasses many moments of his fascinating, varied life.
Date Submitted: January 02, 2021
“Renaissance man Marty Essen takes us on a journey through his life’s many adventures in Hits, Heathens, and Hippos. From his days working in radio as Minnesota’s youngest DJ, to his time as agent/manager in the music world, his ownership of an amateur baseball league (yes, baseball league) and telecommunications company, world traveler, award winning nature author, progressive political activist (in rural Montana!), and public speaker; Hits, Heathens, and Hippos is entertaining, funny, and evocative. Oh, and tell Deb, her Fairchild backdrop is in my garage waiting for the reunion tour to be booked by Marty.”—Brian Kinney, Fairchild
“Hits, Heathens, and Hippos proves life is mostly luck and a little timing with many laughs along the way. Marty Essen has demonstrated that life is what you do while you decide what you are going to be when you grow up. This is a great book about a life of ventures, friends and a few lessons about winning and losing.”—Governor Brian Schweitzer (Democrat, Montana 2005–2013)
“Marty Essen’s book, Hits, Heathens and Hippos, takes you on a comedy journey that never ends. It’s a wicked funny ride. And I know funny.”—Karen Pickering, comedian
“These days it’s imperative to be reminded that one’s dreams can still be made manifest through a combination of fortitude, aptitude, and a good-humored willingness to fail miserably. Marty Essen’s aptly titled new book, Hits, Heathens, and Hippos is a glorious romp through the pathos, triumph, and sheer absurdity of a small scale rock and roll universe, one that nonetheless, has all the trimmings of the big one.”—Peter Himmelman, musician
“Marty Essen’s latest book, Hits, Heathens, and Hippos—which includes a funny story from my days working with his talent agency—really drew me in. His descriptions of our old Minneapolis stomping grounds, and our mutual hometown of Duluth, brought back a lot of forgotten memories, and it was a pleasure to delve into his recollections through his colorful storytelling. Even if you’re not in the music business, Marty’s stories will fascinate you!”—Phil Solem, The Rembrandts