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    Saki: The Complete Saki (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)
    by H.H. Munro
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 April, 1991)
    list price: $17.00 -- our price: $11.56
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    Reviews (23)

    5-0 out of 5 stars British wit
    Here we have everything that Saki wrote. This reviews refers to the shors stories, Sakis best form of art.
    You will fing Oscar Wilde witty little society pieces, Arthur Machen celtic terror, Lord Dunsay adventures, 3 writters in one fro me Saki is theessence of the english soul.
    Special attention deserves: Sredni Vashtar, The open Window, Tobermory, The she wolf and many more are within the best stories written in any language

    5-0 out of 5 stars The short story master
    Ah, Saki. I am currently purchasing my third copy of this Complete Works edition, and I highly doubt this will be the last. Saki is the sort of author where, once you identify a person who would appreciate his humor, it's impossible to keep yourself from going out and getting them a collection of his stories, or giving them your current copy and having to go out and buying a new one.

    At his best (his short stories) he is cutting, incisive, yet just compassionate enough with his subjects to keep them human. Whether he is deconstructing turn-of-the-century English foibles in "Tobermory" (the most frequently anthologized of his short stories), where a cat learns to speak and proceeds to spill the secrets of all members of the previously uneventful dinner party, or simply building up to a plot-twist conclusion that leaves you shaking your head and laughing (as in "The Open Window"), each of his stories is a quick read that you'll probably find yourself re-reading soon afterwards.

    His novels (also included here) are worth reading if you love the short stories, but don't have quite the same verve. "The Unbearable Bassington" is the strongest, and basically takes the archetypal Saki male lead (other examples being Reginald and Clovis Sangrail) and develops him over a full short novel - the moments of greatness that are frequent in his short story are a bit more spread out here, probably a natural consequence of the greater length.

    And finally, we have his plays. These are, in comparison to his short stories, quite weak - the characters aren't memorable, the dialogue isn't credible, and the conclusions aren't surprising and/or satisfying. Their inclusion here seems to be more for completeness than anything else.

    Overall, this is (as the title says) pretty much all the Saki you could ask for, except perhaps his Russian history book published still under his real name (H. H. Munro) - hardly a glaring omission. Read a few of his stories online and, if they catch your attention, this book will become your new nightstand companion.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Edwardian British Humor
    Like many people who came from the upper-class, Hector Hugh Munro (pen-name Saki) was very "old school" right-wing and conservative in his political views, which would come under criticism in our more enlightened age. There's an underlying cruelty and lack of compassion and sympathy in his work, as these views and outlook of his influenced his literary work. But an author's work should be judged on the work itself, not on the man. Saki's great achievement is his short stories, which were published in a newspaper and then collected into volumes. He was enjoying his literary success when the First World War broke out. He enlisted immediately in 1914. In 1916, he was shot dead in the head by an enemy sniper while hiding in a shallow shell-hole or trench. It was this single sporadic shot in the dusk that silenced one of England's finest writers. Two more volumes of his stories were published posthumously.

    To appreciate Saki, one must apreciate witty, sophisticated humor and "old world" dialogue. This author is a master of dialogue, and his short stories (often very short) are full of upper-class types who are portrayed with a delicious malice as Saki shows us their follies, eloquence, and foibles. Wit, satire, and a sort of macabre humor are characteristic of this author's work. Wickedly amusing. You won't soon forget his characters, like the opinionated and divinely dressed Reginald, or the acid-tongued and refined Clovis.

    David Rehak
    author of "Love and Madness" ... Read more

    Isbn: 0141180781
    Sales Rank: 74873
    Subjects:  1. Classics    2. Literature - Classics / Criticism    3. Literature: Classics   


    If You Ask Me: The Collected Columns of America's Most Beloved and Irresponsible Critic
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (13 June, 1995)
    list price: $15.00 -- our price: $15.00
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    Reviews (6)

    5-0 out of 5 stars if you ask me - Libby's a goddess
    If you ask me, Libby is the best thing - and sadly often the only thing - worth reading in Premiere. This book is a collection of some of her earlier columns.

    I remember picking it up in a bookstore, and reading the part about "Rain Man" and laughing so much I was helplessly bent over and terrified that I would be thrown out or carted away by men in white coats. Luckily, I wasn't.

    Hollywood badly needs someone to prick its enormous bubble of egotism, and Libby is always up to the job. Many movie stars are in desperate need of a reality check, a reminder that their hangnails aren't on the same level as say, world peace.

    In addition to Libby, we meet her adorable children, Mitchell-Shawn and Jennifer, her friend the terminally single Stacy Schiff, her husband Josh (like Bill Clinton he can balance a budget, then jog over to pick up a bag of donuts), her mother, and her shrink - all of whom contribute columns.

    Equally funny if not funnier than Dave Barry at his best, this book is a worthy addition to anyone with a slightly warped sense of humor's shelf.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I'm an assistant buyer in Junior's Activewear...
    I'm not ashamed to say that the number one attraction for me of buying the film magazine 'Premiere' is the Libby Gelman-Waxner film review column "If You Ask Me". By "film review" I should add that her camp and funny articles are really more like little tales of her life and thoughts dressed up as a film review.

    They are laugh-out-loud funny and even though Libby is a ficticious creation, frankly I'm in for the ride through her world of therapy, her orthodonist husband and her "tragically single" best friend as well as everyone else that populates the Libby-verse.

    If you like your film with a good sense of humour and appreciate excellent comedy writing this is the book for you. If you ask me.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Libby! Libby!! LIBBY!!!You are my spiritual fiancée!
    At last, a film critic whose take on movies matches that of a real audience.No pseudo-intellectual nonsense, just appreciation of the important things in cinema:popcorn, scantily-clad men and Michelle Pfeiffer's performance in "The Fabulous Baker Boys", to name but a mere three.Libby is a true auteur and the supreme goddess of cutting-straight-to-the-chase.This makes going to the movies oh so easy:you just know that if Libby likes it, you'll love it.Every single review is smack on the money.As an added bonus, you can keep tabs on Libby's fascinating life - because she magically manages to link movie storylines to (her) real life.Can you imagine any other critic doing that?Thought not....But even goddesses need a break now and then, so Libby's own literary masterpiece is sprinkled with contributions from her mother, her daughter, her husband and her therapist.True, the films reviewed in this book are a bit on the old side now but, hey, now you have an indispensible guide regarding what videos/DVDs to rent!Libby's book is a complete and utter riot - never mind that this is a collection of film reviews, the fantastic quality of the writing and the amazing wit will have you in stitches from the first page to the last!This is probably the most-read book in my collection.I live in hope of two things.One, that Libby will come to her senses, dump Josh and marry me - forget Denis Quaid, Libby, I'm the one you really want (and anyway my mother would be SO pleased).Two, that the next volume of her insightful, razor-sharp analyses of modern cinema will hit the shelves very soon.Libby Gelman-Waxner deserves a Pulitzer, if you ask me. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0449909913
    Sales Rank: 251188
    Subjects:  1. Film & Video - Guides & Reviews    2. Film & Video - History & Criticism    3. Form - Essays    4. General    5. Humor    6. Pop Arts / Pop Culture    7. Humor / Essays   


    Midnights: A Year With the Wellfleet Police (Hungry Mind Find)
    by Alec Wilkinson
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 April, 2000)
    list price: $14.00
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    Reviews (2)

    4-0 out of 5 stars An entertaining look at small town police work
    I have long enjoyed Alec Wilkinson's work in the New Yorker, so it was a treat to discover "Midnights." It's a marvelous read. Wilkinson's style is spare and elegant, and his candor about his shortcomings as a cop makes for some hilarious moments. I plan to buy a copy for my policeman brother-in-law, but anyone will enjoy this fine book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Cape Cod Cop: a.k.a. Officer "Crash"
    I won't tell you why Alec Wilkinson was given the dubious nickname of"Crash" while he served on the Wellfleet Police force.You'llhave to read the book to try and figure that one out!What I can tell youis that Midnights is one of the most amusing true stories I have ever read. It's like a real-life Mayberry.. Barney Fife and all!Originallypublished in 1982, Wilkinson describes his personal experiences as a smalltown cop on Cape Cod.Fresh out of college with a music degree, he waslooking for work in the summer of '75.Wilkinson gave law enforcement atry.So what if he had no police training!As you will read, it was onebizarre summer and off-season that followed.Memorable too.And Wilkinsoncandidly recounts his year with the men in blue, often with sidesplittinghumor!It's no wonder why this comical gem is back in print. ... Read more

    Isbn: 1886913323
    Sales Rank: 508940
    Subjects:  1. Biography & Autobiography    2. Biography/Autobiography    3. General    4. Massachusetts    5. Nonfiction - True Crime / Espionage    6. Police    7. Political Freedom & Security - Law Enforcement    8. Wellfleet   

    A Fine and Pleasant Misery
    by Patrick F. McManus
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 June, 1987)
    list price: $12.00 -- our price: $9.60
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    Reviews (26)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good But Bad
    This book is a good book for anyone that loves the outdoors and is somewhat older in age. It really just one big satire on camping that people do in the now.I think I am a little too young for this book, and I dont like camping or reading that much.It is easy reading and funny in parts.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fine and Pleasant Misery -No misery but plenty fine
    This book should be read by every grown up boy and girl who did back yard camping, any other camping and had childhood friends with small fences between yards and crotchety old sales clerks.It will send you back to your childhood and having you laughing at every page.The imagery is classic and complete.Every word counts.It is hilarious.

    5-0 out of 5 stars 'Pass out laughing' funny
    I have always thought that Patrick McManus is the funniest writer on the planet. I read his stories when I need to laugh or relax. Sometimes I irritate my wife by reading it in bed. I try not to laugh out loud, but I only succeed in sounding like I am trying to muffle continuous sneezes.

    However, not everyone gets it. I have been shocked by watching people read McManus without so much as a smile (though most start snorting like wild pigs on acid) . My only guess is that getting McManus requires a couple things.First, it requires some understanding of his experiences. He absolutely nails all of the stupid things 'outdoors men (outdoors people)' do and think, but don't want anybody to know about. Second, you have to see the self-deprecating aspect of his humor. Third, you can't look for great literature in integrated books.Patrick McManus is an excellent writer, if you see these as independent stories simply collected in a volume. They are meant for adults who want to laugh at themselves. So, If you are willing to or already meet the above three criteria, you will love this book.

    By the way, I am a professor of clinical psychology and (other than worrying a little about McManus) I sometimes recommend this and other McManus books. I do this with people who have racing thoughts and anxiety at bedtime, and when I believe they have the necessary experiences to find it funny. It often works quite well. I think of his stories as little pieces of happiness. (Oh, that even makes me sick to hear. Sorry) ... Read more

    Isbn: 0805000321
    Sales Rank: 173798
    Subjects:  1. Camping    2. Fishing    3. Form - Essays    4. General    5. Humor    6. Hunting    7. Hunting - General    8. Outdoor life   


    The Tummy Trilogy
    by Calvin Trillin
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (30 September, 1994)
    list price: $15.00 -- our price: $10.20
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    Editorial Review

    Throughout the 1970s, as he wrote the "American Journal" feature for the New Yorker, Calvin Trillin crossed and recrossed the continent. Braver than most transients, he dined in every manner of restaurant, sampling all kinds of native cuisine. He tirelessly sniffed out plain but great joints where the local people loved to eat. "[Don't take me to the] place you took your parents on their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, [but] the place you went the night you came home after fourteen months in Korea." As a result of such hard-nosed pursuit of good food, this "Walt Whitman of American eats" produced three delightful books chronicling his gastronomic journey, and they have now been collected into The Tummy Trilogy. Trillin is a marvelous writer, affable and witty under any circumstances. He's also an extremely enthusiastic eater, so the books are filled with gourmet brio. Here's a sample from the first book, American Fried:

    ME: Anybody who served a milkshake like this in Kansas City would be put in jail.

    ALICE: You promised not to indulge in any of that hometown nostalgia while I'm eating. You know it gives me indigestion.

    ME: What nostalgia? Facts are facts. The kind of milkshake that I personally consumed six hundred gallons of at the Country Club Daily is an historical fact in three flavors. Your indigestion is not from listening to my fair-minded remarks on the food of a particular American city. It's from drinking that gray skim milk this bandit is trying to pass off as a milkshake.

    This book is almost as fun as tucking into a big, delicious meal (but no substitute, of course). Trillin's family, long-suffering in the face of a father's obsessions, is as winning as always. If you're a dedicated fan--or just dipping into the writing of this good-natured maestro--The Tummy Trilogy is a wonderful book. --Michael Gerber ... Read more

    Reviews (8)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Made me gain weight
    THE TUMMY TRILOGY consists of three collections of essays about traveling and eating: AMERICAN FRIED, ALICE, LET'S EAT and THIRD HELPINGS. And Trillin is a prodigious eater indeed. Whenever he travels, which he does frequently, his primary purpose, it seems, is to eat -- and to discover the best places to eat wherever he happens to be.

    Trillin is not satisfied with the pseudo-Continental fare found in those restaurants he calls "La Maison de la Casa House." No, he wants the authentic barbecue that can only be cooked over a hickory fire, even if he is reduced to driving around with his nose out the window to catch a whiff of hickory smoke. He wants the kind of food you have to eat standing up at a local festival or the kind you eat at long tables covered with paper at Baptist wives' dinners or fisherman's suppers.

    If you aren't a prodigious eater, you may find Trillin's writing difficult to take in anything other than small helpings. Reading an account of one meal can leave you feeling engorged, as if you had gained five pounds from the text alone. But the writing is light and humorous and pulls you along, the observations are witty and always tinged with truth, and the eaters Trillin meets along the way are worth getting to know. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to plan a trip to New Orleans and see if Trillin has left anything worth eating behind.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Eat your way across America
    Okay so I'm late at reading Calvin's books, but what a yummy way to write.I would have read the book in one sitting, but I kept getting so dang hungry, I would have to stop and go eat something!A person could get fat reading this book.Of course all his talk of barbecue, and crawfish festivals, left this East-Texas gal longing for home.He's right in the south 'eat anywhere' is the goal of many.This book was delightful and delicious!A great book for the cook in the family.Margie Toone-author The Country Gourmet

    5-0 out of 5 stars Saluting America with coleslaw
    What qualifies the author to write this book is concisely summarized in a quote from his daughter: "Daddy likes to pig out." In the grand history of American gluttony (dating back to the first Thanksgiving dinner, I suppose), no one has ever pigged out with more demonstrable relish and native lack of hauteur than Calvin Trillin. His ode to the glories of Arthur Bryant's Barbecue - The Single Best Restaurant In The World - is a dithyramb worthy of Whitman. He is, in short, a true patriot - albeit one whose vision of multiculturalism is expressed in Italian fried-pepper sandwiches and Polish pierogies. There are lots of laughs in this volume but I value it more for its whole-hearted embrace of our authentic appetites. In a time of spiralling culinary pretention (whose standard bearer is Charlie Trotter and his dishes with paragraph-long names), "The Tummy Trilogy" is a palate-cleansing dish of sanity. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0374524173
    Subjects:  1. Cooking / Wine    2. Dinners and dining    3. Essays    4. Food    5. General    6. Humor    7. Regional & Ethnic - American - General    8. Restaurants    9. United States    10. Cooking / General   


    Trust Me On This
    by Donald E. Westlake
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 May, 1989)
    list price: $5.99
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    Reviews (4)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Very funny, typically Westlake
    This was a very funny book. It had the usual Westlake shenanigans and completely outlandish behavior, but the twist is how the newspaper in the story is modeled after The National Inquirer. It made good fun of the "excessive news" industry and added a new concept: the body in the box. This is the holy grail of excessive news stories in this book. The protagonists try to take a picture of a dead famous person in his coffin. Absolutely hilarious! The female protagonist is naive and personable, very believable. The male lead is also believable as a cad who just wants stories that sell. I highly recommend this one to fans of Lawrence Block, Elmore Leonard, and Janet Evanovich (as well as Westlake fans).

    3-0 out of 5 stars Great story, but the WORST Australian accents ever!
    A great story and an otherwise excellent reading was spoiled for me by the APPALLING "Australian" accents used for three of the characters.I certainly don't expect perfection, but this reader didn't get anywhere near.
    These Australians sounded like Cockneys with some bizarre speech defect.A little more research to find out how Australians actually speak might have helped.
    Send us up, by all means - the Aussie characters were hilariously written - but please try to at least approximate the accent.
    If Kate Winslett and Meryl Streep can do it, so can you. (Okay, Meryl's character was a New Zealander living in Australia, but all the more admirable for that!)

    5-0 out of 5 stars My favorite Westlake
    This is one of my annual must-reads. I have read it every year since it first came out and I still laugh uproariously at it.Westlake is famous for his comedy capers and this is the best of the bunch. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0445408073
    Sales Rank: 721307
    Subjects:  1. Fiction    2. Fiction - Mystery/ Detective    3. Mystery & Detective - General    4. Mystery and detective stories    5. Mystery/Suspense    6. Fiction / Mystery & Detective / General   

    Zuleika Dobson (Modern Library (Paperback))
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (14 September, 1998)
    list price: $19.00 -- our price: $19.00
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    Reviews (19)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A short, smart and funny work of art
    Zuleika Dobson was published in 1911, a little less than a decade after the Boer War ended.It is a meditation on how beauty and love can mascarade for death:"Yonder, in the Colleges, was the fume and fret of tragedy--Love as Death's decoy, and Youth following her."There is a lot of love in the book, and a big dollop of death, too, and it remains a hilarious read.

    The book is a sort of mascarade ball.It was, according to itself, a gift to Clio--the Muse of History--from Zeus, who finally gets to bed her by granting her wish to provide a historian "invisibility, inevitability and psychic penetration, with a flawless memory thrown in" to cover the events thrown into action by a certain Ms. Zuleika Dobson at Judas, College at Oxford.

    In the novel several ghosts, including George Sand and Chopin, play minor roles as do several Roman Emperors, who are all forced to suffer the indignities of the elements year-in, year-out, and, as statues, usually make their thoughts known by such actions as sweating.You learn quite a lot about the late 19th century activities on Olympus--given that it is a place less reported on in our times--what it means to be an omniscient voice, are treated to a few lectures and even tantrums by the author, and to beware phrases in French, Latin, and Greek.(Not to worry, there are but a tiny smattering of these.)

    That said, it is a very funny book which won't take you too long to read and which foreshadows Flann O'Brien's work as well as other, less interesting, magical realists.

    One further note of explanation:Zuleika Dobson was recommended to me as a cautionary tale on the perfect woman.Ms. Dobson was not perfect, unless you mean she was an idea.I think that Mr. Beerbohm--and all men--are far too Aristotilean to be so physically transported by her.That, of course, is part and parcel of the joke.

    Zuleika Dobson is one of the Modern Library's "100 Best Novels" and deserves the honor, without doubt.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Laugh-Out-Loud Satire
    If this were anything but a social satire, the argument that the characters are unlikeable would have more merit. However, the tone of the narrator throughout the novel clearly tells the reader that he or she is not to take the characters too much to heart. The intentional bathos of many of the scenes undercuts the dignity and importance of the events and people with which the narrative superficially presents them.

    Beerbohm's wit and frequent excursions into the supernatural, (describing events from a statue's perspective and his personal relationship with the historical muse, just to name two instances), allow us to accept the characters as likeable within the make believe framework of their setting - a circumstance that is, I think, at the heart of the satire. Well, ZD herself may not always be likeable since she is so shallow, but that is her nature as a succubus (not literally, but the overt suggestion is there). A great femme fatale, though not a feminist.

    4-0 out of 5 stars zuleika dobson
    The book is a beautifully written evocation of its time and place as well as well-aimed and astute social satire.That much has often been said.What I find amazing is the prescience of its author regarding the fate of that generation.Those young men were, in fact, soon to die out of a sense of duty, honor and (?misplaced)idealism.Although historians may object, perhaps rightly, it could be said that the reality proved more incredible than the fiction.Beerbohm could not have known the horror the near future would bring or the all of the reasons for it, but did he see the where those youth were heading? Personally I think that the novel was written as a pure farce.The pervasive sense of doom, while presented in an often humorous foreknowledge of the students' deaths is a part of the comic structure of the novel.But there is an poignancy to it.The Duke's struggle between desire to live and love and his perceived duty to die an honorable death; his succumbing at last to tradition (even dying in uniform), is touching.In the hindsight of history it is even more so. Therefore, this book can be read either as a comedy or a tragedy.Beneath the sparkling surface, there are depths. ... Read more

    Isbn: 037575248X
    Sales Rank: 312789
    Subjects:  1. Beerbohm, Max, 1872-1956    2. Classics    3. College stories    4. College students    5. Fiction    6. Literature - Classics / Criticism    7. Literature: Classics    8. Oxford (England)    9. Young women    10. Fiction / General   


    The Strange Affair of Adelaide Harris
    by Leon Garfield
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (16 April, 2001)
    list price: $6.95 -- our price: $6.95
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    Reviews (4)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Leon Garfield's funniest book
    Timid schoolmaster Mr Brett is striving to teach his class Ancient History.He tells them of the Spartan custom of exposing unwanted infants on the mountain side (looking fearfully at the boys in front of him, he wonders why the custom was ever abandoned).One of the boys, the crafty harris, comes up with the idea of exposing his own infant sister, Adelaide, to see if she will be suckled by a she-wolf (or, this being England in the Regency period, a fox).He enlists the help of his slow-witted but admiring friend Bostock, and together they expose Adelaide and wait hopefully for the fox to turn up.Unfortunately, the baby is rescued by romantic Tizzy Alexander, the schoolmaster's daughter (loved hopelessly by Mr Brett) whotakes her home.Her father suspects the worst when his daughter turns up with a baby, and challenges her bumptious admirer Ralph Bunnion to a duel.The hapless Mr Brett finds himself acting as second to both participants.Meanwhile poor Adelaide ends up ina foundling hospital.As Harris and Bostock try desperately to get her back, more and more characters are drawn into a complex web of misunderstandings and deceits.This is an absolutely hilarious book, told in Leon Garfield's inimitable style.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A realy good book!
    Two boys set out with baby Adelaide, to see if a wolf will adopt her so they might become "famous".Their plan turns into a huge adventure, when Adelaide is taken all the way to the poorhouse.I like the book especially because of the "love".Their is love between the school teacher,Brett,and the beautiful lady Tizzy.I love romance,and adventure.There is also some violence in the story, but not much.It is a very enchanting 16th century book.I recommend it to all who like romance, adventure, and action.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Kind of Insane Charles Dickens
    Oh how I wish someone had told me about Leon Garfield when I was a child! I would have just eaten these books right up. Garfield writes beautifully and wittily, with well drawn, likable characters and intelligent dialogue. But his plots! Dear lord, the plots. "The Strange Affair of Adelaide Harris" features the classic Garfield plot structure of beginning with about a dozen characters, sending half in one direction and the other half the opposite way to gradually form a giant circle. Way leads unto zany way as the people in his decidedly eccentric world try desperately to stave off their respective fates, to no avail. The good guy gets the girl, the bad guys end up confused, and Bostock and Harris go on to "Night of the Comet", (which if memory serves is actually a prequel, but never mind). If you have never read one of Leon Garfield's loopy tales, please do so immediately. You won't regret it. And if you like "The Strange Affair of Adelaide Harris" you absolutely MUST read "Black Jack", Garfield's masterwork. Murderers, con-men, insane asylums, the end of the world- it's not be to missed. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0374471215
    Sales Rank: 827491
    Subjects:  1. 1789-1820    2. Children's 12-Up - Fiction - General    3. Children: Grades 4-6    4. Fiction    5. General    6. Great Britain    7. Historical - General    8. History    9. Humorous fiction    10. Humorous stories    11. Juvenile Fiction    12. Juvenile Fiction / General   


    A Short History of a Small Place: A Novel
    by T. R. Pearson, T.R. Pearson
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 May, 1994)
    list price: $15.00 -- our price: $15.00
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    Reviews (20)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Big laughs for a small place
    The brilliance of this novel is the narrative voice-- a child observer who remains wholly unbiased, deadpan, as he relates the raucously funny antics of a gaggle of strongly opinionated townspeople. These are Dickensian-quality characters you appreciate even if you have never lived in the South. A laugh-out-loud funny read.

    4-0 out of 5 stars delightful humor and honesty ........
    This is a beautiful Southern novel that moves at it's own pace to paint a picture of a small town populated by unique individuals. It is toldthrough the eyes and ears of a young boy, Louis Benfield.There is no pretense to the taleLouis passes on to the reader, merely a child relaying what he has heard being said between adults or to him by an adult. The naivete and the simple artless manner that Louis passes on the information he has heard in conversations is the key to this delightful tale.The stories all center at some point on Miss Myra Angelique, who was the beloved sister of the former Mayor.
    The stories each take on a life of their own, but eventually find their way back to Miss Myra Angelique.This book is full of wonderful Southern sayings and "wisdom" that will leave you laughing at their simplicity and homespun quality.There is however an underlying complexity to this wisdom that weaves it's way into the Southern tale. T.R. Pearson leaves no stone unturned, even delving into the realities of prejudice and intolerance, not with any judgement involved, but as a part of the history of the town of Neely observed and interpretted through Louis'syoung eyes, heart and soul.T.R. Pearson can truly join the ranks of the true, great Southern writers. He portrays the Southern culture with delightful humor and honesty that evokes thoughtfulness and deliberation on the true meaning of the tale that has been carefully crafted with a casual feel.

    3-0 out of 5 stars A Winding Path
    The Road goes ever on and on
    Down from the door where it began.
    Now far ahead the road has gone,
    And I must follow, if I can,
    Pursuing it with eager feet,
    Until it joins some larger way
    Where many paths and errands meet.
    And whither then? I cannot say.
    (The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R.Tolkien)

    Just as a path can slowly wind itself around a mountain, stories do not always take the quickest route from page one to the back cover.Sometimes they slide away from the main narrative and drag the reader into unmapped territory without any sign of when they might break back onto the plotted course.But books hope to be more like adventures-more interesting and meaningful then the final destination.T.R. Pearson's, "A Short History of a Small Place," demands its readers leave their navigation equipment at home and just follow the story's path as it serpentines its way through 80 years in the history of a quaint-make-believe-town in North Carolina named Neely.While Pearson's account is comedic in tone, his story should not be taken lightly.

    Neely's people, places, and happenings are fanned out before the reader by one of the town's younger residents, Louis Benfield.The nucleus of his tale recounts the death of Miss Myra Angelique Pettigrew, the towns most prominent and richest citizen.Swirling around this event, Louis delves into the lives of other Neely residents and the towns many noteworthy occurrences.While the actual voice in the text is Louis', the bulk of "A Short History of a Small Place" is told through the words of the townspeople, particularly Louis' father and mother.It is his parent's voices that shape the novel and allow us to witness events that transpired years before Louis and his parents were born.

    The book's title does a perfect job in summing up the story's primary strength and overall weakness.A short history does in fact wrap itself around the tale of Miss Pettigrew's death. While the entire narrative is related through the various events it describes, we spend little time in what is essentially the "present."By taking place mostly in the past, a deeper understanding of all the characters is gained, which in turn fleshes out the circumstances surrounding Pettigrew's suicide.Had the book taken a more linear path, Pettigrew's death would have seemed exceptionally silly and played out for comedy's sake.That is not saying "A Short History of a Small Place" should be taken completely seriously.Pearson is obviously spinning a comedic tale riddled with tragic elements, while poking fun at many aspects of Southern life.Still, this is a true piece of literature.It is only because we are fully aware of the history of Neely that we can take all its eccentricities with a grain of salt.

    Unfortunately, the story does get lost along the way.Pearson does an amazing job of populating his fictional town, but it feels as if he gets tangled up in his own imagination.Many of the sub-stories have a tendency of branching off into even shorter pieces.Coherent plot lines are separated by large chunks of text, making it difficult to remember what you were originally reading about.Even when the reader doesn't lose sight of the whole narrative, following the separate stories and piecing everything together can become somewhat tedious.Also, the cast of characters is large and remembering who they all are and their family ties can get confusing.

    Pearson's novel is a entertaining read that should keep most peoples attentions even though the myriad of stories contained in the book can become confusing.Readers should expect to spend some time with the book if they want to get a through understating of what is going on. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0805033203
    Sales Rank: 547237
    Subjects:  1. City and town life    2. Eccentrics and eccentricities    3. Fiction    4. Fiction - General    5. General    6. Humorous fiction    7. North Carolina    8. Pearson, T.R. - Prose & Criticism   


    Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody (Nonpareil Book)
    by Will Cuppy
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 March, 1998)
    list price: $14.95 -- our price: $10.17
    (price subject to change: see help)
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France
    Reviews (27)

    5-0 out of 5 stars the funniest history book ever written
    I must have read this book twenty times at least, and I never get tired of it.Every time it seems just as funny, as Will Cuppy tells us about the lives of historical characters, from Cheops ( or khufu) through to Catherine the Great, taking in such diverse characters as Cleopatra, Attila the hun, Lady Godiva, henry the eight, John Smith, and miles Standish. His wonderful dry comments are hilarious, as on Charlemagne who was born in the dark ages when people were not very bright.They have been getting brighter and brighter ever since, until finally the are like they are now'Or on the American revolution , started because the colonists had to pay takes to which their consent had not been asked ' today we pay taxesbut our consent has been asked, and we have told the government to go ahead and tax us all they want to.We like it'This is a sublime book, the one I'd take with me to a desert island if i had to choose only one.

    5-0 out of 5 stars man, will cuppy...
    is amazing.

    please do yourselves a favor and run out and read this book. right now. I'm serious. it's for your own good.

    and when you've finished it and love it as much as I do, you can send me flowers and thank you cards, because I did you the great favor of recommending that you read it.

    you better be buying it already. right now.

    stop reading this and hurry up.

    you're welcome.

    d <3

    1-0 out of 5 stars Will Cuppy is to history what Mad Magazine is to literature
    By page two I felt cheated.It is poorly written, in a smirking quasi-intellectual style that is neither funny nor educational.

    This is an awful book.Don't buy it unless you have an off balance table and you need something just this size to slip under the table leg. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0879235144
    Sales Rank: 306885
    Subjects:  1. American Satire And Humor    2. Anecdotes, facetiae, satire, e    3. Anecdotes, facetiae, satire, etc    4. Form - Parodies    5. History    6. History - General History    7. History: American    8. Humor    9. Reference    10. World history   


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