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5.0 out of 5 stars Rich Source of Literary and Political Drollery for All Moods, 29 Jun 2004
This review is from: Fierce Pajamas: An Anthology of Humor Writing from the New Yorker (Hardcover)
This book is a perfect gift for all fans of The New Yorker!
If you are like me, The New Yorker's cartoons draw your attention first. Then, you'll look for quips in verse. You'll scan your favorite features. Next, you'll scan the table of contents for your favorite writers. Finally, you will read articles on subjects of interest.
In all cases, you can expect to be surprised with wit . . . even in the midst of "serious" articles on "serious" subjects.
Unless you have read every issue of The New Yorker over the past 75 plus years, undoubtedly you've missed some wonderful humor in the form of prose and poetry. This anthology lets you quickly access the works that have "stood the test of time" to still produce a laugh now for both editor, David Remnick, and editorial director, Henry Finder.
Over 70 contributors are represented, many by more than one piece.
You are cautioned that "humor is often diluted by concentration" so that you should sample this collection over time in small doses, like medicine.
The works are loosely organized into Spoofs, the Frenzy of Renown, the War between Men and Women, the Writing Life, a Funny Thing Happened, Words of Advice, Recollections and Reflections, and Verse.
The works vary a lot in how quickly they will reach your funny bone. Some will release many laughs, while others are basically one joke that will raise not too much more than a smile. After you have finished all of the offerings to the altar of humor, you may wish to create your own index of which works match best with which moods and times when you read.
I usually prefer compact works suffused with quick humor. Here are my favorites in the collection:
E.B. White, "Duck in Fierce Pajamas" which begins with "Ravaged by pink eye, I lay for a week scarce caring whether I lived or died." and "Critic"
Marshall Brickman, "The Analytic Napkin"
Ian Frazier, "LGA - ORD" which begins with "Grey bleak final afternoon ladies and gentlemen . . . ."
Groucho Marx, "Press Agents I Have Known"
Chet Williamson, "Gandhi at the Bat"
F. Scott Fitzgerald, "A Short Autobiography"
Frank Sullivan, "The Cliché Expert Takes the Stand" and "The Cliché Expert Tells All"
Ruth Suckow, "How to Achieve Success as a Writer"
Michael J. Arlen, "Are We Losing the Novel Race?"
Woody Allen, "Selections from the Allen Notebooks"
Peter De Vries, "The High Ground, or Look, Ma, I'm Explicating"
Robert Benchley, "Why We Laugh -- Or Do We?"
Steve Martin, "Changes in the Memory after Fifty"
Clarence Day, "Father Isn't Much Help"
S.J. Perelman, "Cloudland Revisited"
Martin Amis, "Tennis Personalities"
John Updike, "Car Talk"
Dorothy Parker, "Rhyme of an Involuntary Violet"
Ogden Nash, "Procrastination Is All the Time"
Robert Graves, "The Naked and the Nude"
Communing with these wonderful writers will also encourage you to read more of their work, and the works of those they spoof. What could be finer?
I hope that the editors consider producing a second volume that includes serious works which contain humorous asides and interludes.
Look on the bright side of every "overly serious" subject. In that way, you can avoid the "deadly dullness" stall!
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