31 August 2016

The 50 Funniest American Writers, by Andy Borowitz

A collection of humor. Some are gems, some are not.

Of note:

A passage from Babbit by Sinclair Lewis is included. I never thought that Babbit was funny.

 "Vacation '58" by John Hughes is the story that was used to make the movie "Vacation," starring Chevy Chase. I believe that this story is much better than the movie.

O Henry's "Ransom of Red Chief" is included, as it should be.

Hunter S. Thompson's "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved" is vintage Thompson. One feels a little sick after reading this.

Woody Allen's "Look at Organized Crime" is very funny.

Phillip Roth's "Letters to Einstein" is a (fictional, I hope) series of letters to the great man from a would-be PR agent who wishes to promote Einstein as an example of and to American Jews.

 Nora Ephron's "A Few Words About Breasts" is amusing, but at the same time rather piquant, and probably just a little outdated.

"Our White Heritage" by Beard, O'Donoghue, and Trow, is basically a good joke but it is far too long, and in today's climate probably would be misunderstood.

"Better Read Than Dead" by Fran Liebowitz is worth the whole book, but then it's always such a pleasure to read anything by Fran.

 "The Laws of Cartoon Motion," by Mark O'Donnell, is an essay that needed to be written. Hilarious and accurate.

Garrison Keillor's "The Tip Top Club" is a good example of Keillor's brand of humor, with a sort of nihilistic outcome.

Calvin Trillin is devastating with "Corrections."

Dave Barry: well, what can you say about Dave Barry. This is his essay about why relationships between men and women can never, ever work.

Susan Orlean complains about the privileges of babies in "Shiftless Little Loafers."

Ian Frazier parodies the Old Testament in "Lamentations of the Father."

Bernie Mac nearly killed me. "I Ain't Scared of You."

David Sedaris, Wanda Sykes, Jack Handey, and many more. This is a great read, and maybe even a great reference book.

Library of America webpage for this book  (L of A is the publisher)