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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breath Chokingly Brilliant, 17 Aug 2001
This review is from: Fun Run and Other Oxymorons: Singular Reflections of an Englishman Abroad (Paperback)
I brought this book because I enjoy Bill Bryson-esque observations, but Joe Bennett surpasses Bryson. This book is a collection of 2 books (from his columns) which were published in NZ.
The subjects he takes on in each chapter are everyday things but somehow he seems to make them extraordinary. He has the ability to poke fun at others (Mormon preachers, Finnish tourist) which is easy I suppose, but the clever part is the way he manages to make fun of himself.
I managed to buy all three books from NZ and they are little jems. Definitely a book to take on the beach to read so that no-one else can see you laughing uncontrollably and struggle for breath like my boyfriend did in Phuket.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty and Profound, 17 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Fun Run and Other Oxymorons: Singular Reflections of an Englishman Abroad (Paperback)
This collection of newspaper columns brilliantly takes a sideways look at the everyday stuff of life - from management consultants to massage parlours. Bennett packs in wry observation, jokes, opinion, passion and humility into each article, making each one a gem. Lots of books are reviewed as 'hilarious' and prove to be just the opposite. Bennett is genuinely funny (and funnily genuine). Buy this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind-fresheningly funny, 16 Mar 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Fun Run and Other Oxymorons: Singular Reflections of an Englishman Abroad (Paperback)
Essentially observational stand-up comedy delivered in text form, these are the hilarious newspaper columns of Englishman-in-New-Zealand Joe Bennett, who has mastered the rare and elusive skill of pointing out the completely obvious and making it seem fresh, new and often stupendously funny. His range of subjects run from the mundane to the even more mundane, and that's what makes it so wonderful. He has a turn of phrase that is a cross between Wodehouse and Monkhouse. On Monopoly: "Few joys compare with watching the dice carry a friend to your square which seethes with hotels". On museums: "When I was young, museums were like Sundays - oppressive, depressing and adult." And on frying pans: "If after several months the fat becomes so deep you lose sausages in it, it can be turned out and cut into squares. Crunchy Cholesterol Slice is its proper title, and it is best served with butter." This is laugh out loud funny. If you do not find yourself reading out chunks to anyone who will listen, even perfect strangers, your sense of humour and delight must have shrivelled and died.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and Brilliant, 17 Mar 2000
This review is from: Fun Run and Other Oxymorons: Singular Reflections of an Englishman Abroad (Paperback)
The front cover of this book bears the word 'Brilliant' attributed to Bill > Bryson. I would add one other word - hilarious. > > Bennett's essays are short, economical, taut, relevant AND funny. He > writes in > New Zealand - don't hold that against him. Just because he isn't one of > the > London Metropolitan mafia who has a TV show as well as writing features for > the > Observer or The Indepedent on Sunday, doesn't mean he should be discounted. > > Physically he resembles Nick Hornby and is the same age - 42. But Bennett > is a > man who resembles P.J.O'Rourke/Clive James rather than a Hornby/Helen > Fielding/William Sutcliffe/Mike Gayle clone. > > I really hope that Bennett extends his repetoire - what does he think of TV > in > the year 2000, what are his views on travel and how about a Joe Bennett > version > of Unreliable Memoirs (Clive James)? > > Keep it up Joe. > > The Empire (New Zealand) Strikes Back. > > Mark Lee > Thursday 16th March 2000
> >
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smooth and sublime, 11 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Fun Run and Other Oxymorons: Singular Reflections of an Englishman Abroad (Paperback)
This is simply the cleverest and wittiest book I've read in ages. If you've acquired a taste for Bill Bryson-esque observation, you'll simply love this. In fact the Bryson parrallels are unfair, Bennett is equally as good in this book, if not better. He writes with charm and wit - but not with sarcasm or spite. His stories are full of fun and acceptance of the way the world is, but you don't hear any moans and whines, and you don't feel patronised. Each little tale of real life situations is crafted in a friendly, conversational style, which brightens up his writing in a way which puts Bryson's pomposity in the shade. Guaranteed to make you smile time and time again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joe Bennett will tickle your funny bone, 25 July 2000
This review is from: Fun Run and Other Oxymorons: Singular Reflections of an Englishman Abroad (Paperback)
A stream of humour with acute and perceptive undercurrents. The author raises the mundane everyday trivia to give us a feeling of shared experiences. He manages to prick pomposity at the same time as celebrating the human condition. A must for the beach or the bath.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and Brilliant, 17 Mar 2000
This review is from: Fun Run and Other Oxymorons: Singular Reflections of an Englishman Abroad (Paperback)
The front cover of this book bears the word 'Brilliant' attributed to Bill Bryson. I would add one other word - hilarious. Bennett's essays are short, economical, taut, relevant AND funny. He writes in New Zealand - don't hold that against him. Just because he isn't one of the London Metropolitan mafia who has a TV show as well as writing features for the Observer or The Indepedent on Sunday, doesn't mean he should be discounted. Physically he resembles Nick Hornby and is the same age - 42. But Bennett is a man who resembles P.J.O'Rourke/Clive James rather than a Hornby/Helen Fielding/William Sutcliffe/Mike Gayle clone. I really hope that Bennett extends his repetoire - what does he think of TV in the year 2000, what are his views on travel and how about a Joe Bennett version of Unreliable Memoirs (Clive James)? Keep it up Joe.
The Empire (New Zealand) Strikes Back. Mark Lee Thursday 16th March 2000 > >
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharply observed and witty, 14 May 2002
This review is from: Fun Run and Other Oxymorons: Singular Reflections of an Englishman Abroad (Paperback)
The blurb by Bill Bryson - 'brilliant' - on the front cover drew me to this book. Having greedily gulped down Bryson's weekly columns in Notes From A Big Country, I was eager to read humorously observed writings in a similar vein. I wasn't disappointed. Bennett, like Bryson, has the knack of finding just the right words to describe life's quirks and foibles - with bags of witticisms along the way.
Well worth forking out for.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 9 July 2014
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This review is from: Fun Run and Other Oxymorons: Singular Reflections of an Englishman Abroad (Paperback)
Great book
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4.0 out of 5 stars Perceptive, witty commentary from Down Under, 11 Mar 2012
By 
Amazon Customer (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fun Run and Other Oxymorons: Singular Reflections of an Englishman Abroad (Paperback)
"Bill Gates is so rich that he gets to talk to President Clinton. Nevertheless there are advantages to his wealth. For example Bill Gates never wears a tie. Appearing before Clinton less than fully clothes has its dangers, but Gates didn't get where he is today by ducking danger." - from FUN RUN AND OTHER OXYMORONS

"Getting details right is petty, retentive, and prim, and, besides, details rarely tally with the purer truth of memory ..." - from FUN RUN AND OTHER OXYMORONS

Writing from his adopted homeland of New Zealand, expat Brit Joe Bennett's outlook on life, and his ability to remark on its more ridiculous aspects, resembles that of the late Andy Rooney. Like Rooney, Bennett writes social commentary; he's also an accomplished travel essayist with such books as Where Underpants Come from: From Checkout to Cotton Field - Travels Through the New China, Hello Dubai: Skiiing, Sand and Shopping in the World's Weirdest City, and A Land of Two Halves: An Accidental Tour of New Zealand.

FUN RUN AND OTHER OXYMORONS is a volume of seventy-seven short chapters, each dealing with some absurdity or situation of everyday life. Many had previously appeared as articles in various New Zealand newspapers.

Having also taught English, the author's use of the language, combined with an eccentric wit, makes for delicious reading. Take for example, in the chapter on life's celebrations, this perhaps overlooked aspect of a wedding:

"Parents are always sad. If the tosh (twaddle) about not losing a daughter but gaining a son-in-law weren't tosh they wouldn't cry so much. Daughter is firmly lost and the son-in-law has the table manners of a skunk. Had daughter not developed an inexplicable and undissuadable crush on the thug they wouldn't have given him houseroom."

Bennett has a talent for expressing a simple truth in a way that I wish I'd thought of, like:

"For each of us, I suspect, popular music will always mean the stuff which played when our hormones ached. In the turbulence of youth we absorb words and tunes that time cannot erase."

Ah, those achy hormones of youth! I could say I remember them well, but memory is failing. Still, when I hear a recording of "Surfin' USA" (1963) performed by The Beach Boys, in my mind's eye the waves are always up, the gulls cry, and the bikinied surfer chicks do cartwheels down an endless California beach. Bitchin', man!

Bennett doesn't always get it right. In the chapter regarding Bill Clinton's effort to redirect public attention from Monica Lewinsky to the danger of Osama bin Laden, apparently originally written during that Chief Executive's presidency, there is this:

"Mr. Bin Something will soon have served his purpose whereupon he will fade quietly away and leave not a wrack behind. A year from now his name will mean nothing."

Oh, wrongo bongo on that one!

And then there's the chapter "Communing with Shags", something incoherent about being attacked by a rabbit on a stormy night during a cliff-side walk, the animal looking to revenge the atrocities committed by some Russian submariners on some other bunnies at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Um, say again?

Perhaps my favorite chapter of all is "The Man Who Ate Death." Besieged by Food Nannies on all sides to the point of having the walls of my own castle breached, it struck a sympathetic cord.

But Bennett's greatest talent is for self-deprecatory humor. For the very best example of it, refer to his travel book Mustn't Grumble, in which he describes his encounter, or more accurately, non-encounter, with a woman walking her dog across the meadows near Bradford-on-Avon. It's one of the finest pieces of self-depreciation I've ever read.
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