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Ant Farm: And Other Desperate Situations [Kindle Edition]

Simon Rich
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $12.95
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

In Ant Farm, former Harvard Lampoon president Simon Rich finds humor in some very surprising places. Armed with a sharp eye for the absurd and an overwhelming sense of doom, Rich explores the ridiculousness of our everyday lives. The world, he concludes, is a hopelessly terrifying place–with endless comic potential.

–If your girlfriend gives you some “love coupons” and then breaks up with you, are the coupons still valid?

–What kind of performance pressure does an endangered male panda feel when his captors bring the last remaining female panda to his cage?

–If murderers can get into heaven by accepting Jesus, just how awkward is it when they run into their victims?

Join Simon Rich as he explores the extraordinary and hilarious desperation that resides in ordinary life, from cradle to grave.

"Hilarious." –Jon Stewart

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A contributor to Mad, 22-year-old Rich is a Harvard senior, a former president of the Harvard Lampoon and the son of New York Times columnist Frank Rich. Half of the short humor pieces collected here previously appeared in the Harvard Lampoon, and Rich has taken his college collage and mixed it with new material for a satirical salmagundi that bites back. Since brevity is the soul of wit, the book has 57 varieties of playlets, essays and mirthful monologues, and most are only two pages long. Imaginative premises abound, such as X Files with dog characters. In the title piece, ants plot an escape: "We've been digging tunnels ever since we got here. We always end up hitting glass." Since a college-level audience is targeted, older readers might find some references puzzling. In his original proposal to Random House (a portion of which was printed in the New York Observer), he claimed that the "subject matter—horrible, inescapable doom—is well-suited for a younger audience.... I think kids will be attracted to the book's unpredictability. The tone remains constant throughout, but the topic changes every page with the abruptness of an iPod shuffle." True, these fragments are fun, and some are so abrupt they could have been iPhoned in. Others are as unpredictable as YouTube, as in your face as MySpace (which will both surely be used for online promotions). (Apr. 3)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In this collection of comic vignettes, Rich, a Harvard senior and former president of the I^ Harvard Lampoon, displays a knack for extracting humor from scenarios of discomfort and despair. There's the son who unwittingly exposes his single mother's promiscuity, the nerd who becomes cool in the eyes of his Bulgarian pen pal, and the factory employee who goes a little nuts on the job. Performance anxiety among pandas, small talk gone wrong, the validity of "love coupons" when a relationship goes bad--all are covered here. Readers also learn about unlikely applications of math. (Who knew solving a trigonometry problem could mitigate a murderer's wrath?) And on the liabilities of being invisible, Rich writes: "When I was a lifeguard, I never got any credit for any of my heroic rescues. It was always 'angel this' and 'angel that.'" Some of the selections are more dark than droll (a boy's discovery of his father's alcohol cache, the text message of a teenager with hepatitis C), but all have the same good-natured goal: finding levity amid the gravity of everyday life. Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 1076 KB
  • Print Length: 162 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B009I93HX6
  • Publisher: Random House (November 11, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002W3BU16
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,440 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I'm not trying to get negative, I'm just...(Sighs)" October 24, 2008
That pretty much sums up this snarky, cynical and humorous collection of speculations and observations from Simon Rich. It's a collection that presents a more youthful, upbeat resignation echoing the more reposed one found in the writing of David Sedaris. Ant Farm is full of nostalgic recollections and weird possibilities concerning the irrelevancies of those desperate situations that give us awkward moments of reflection.

Moments that involve realizing the agony spent before receiving one's first calculator, the ironic closed-mindedness when experimenting with a ouija board, making candy with a forgetful someone named Peanut Al, keeping close tabs on your daily karma tally, God's overwhelming support for Orel Hershiser, and the three things you really don't need if stranded on a desert island.

Ant Farm is an incredibly fast and funny read. The selections are brief and varied, maybe a little too much so, as each consists no more than a couple of pages and is unbounded by coherent theme other than pure whimsy. But it does create that weird momentary pause, raising the question whether there is anything more absurd than us humans and our behavior.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Silly Short Stuff August 28, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
These stories are very very short which is good. If they were any longer they might well result in emotional damage to the reader. Mr. Rich's imagination takes us where few have gone before.

I mean what would you do if an angry murderer threatened you with death if you didn't come up with the correct answer to a trigonometry problem (sin2x=2cosinxsinx)? Have you ever thought how difficult it would be to wage war using Swiss army knives? Is it really true that God intervenes to help Orel Hershiser pitch his way to victory? Is it a fact that scientist Stephen Hawking is really a time traveler? Is it possible for ants to dig to freedom from a glass walled ant farm?

Do these story topics pique your interest? If so cough up 10 bucks and buy the book. If they leave you cold, well, hey spend the money on a six pack, and have fun that way.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing! August 1, 2007
By Jay
I love Simon Rich's sense of humor. His imaginings of what a situation would be like (What a conversation between God and the man who stands with a cardboard sign informing the public the end is near, for example, or what his mother believes runs through his mind when he is home alone at age 15) are just brilliant. Not all the entries are great, but the gems make up for the others. I loved sharing this with my family and friends, and despite age, gender, and frankly taste difference, they all found something to love in ANT FARM. The book goes fast, but you can revisit it again and again. It is well worth buying.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My new favorite book! April 22, 2007
And I'm not just saying that as an Emmy-winning 40-yr-old comedy writer in Hollywood trying to suck up to a young guy who will be running this place in about six months (how do you do sir?)...Ant Farm is a delightful bruschetta of absurdity served on crackers of keen insight.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very very funny December 29, 2008
This is a short and very funny book, lent to me by the estimable Dr. ASK in order to prove a philosophical point about what books you should keep (answer: this one) and what ones you should get rid of (answer: the others). It's a series of two- and three-page sketches, some of which you may already know from the New Yorker such as this one:

A Conversation at the Grownup Table, as Imagined at the Kids' Table

MOM: Pass the wine, please. I want to become crazy.
GRANDMOTHER: Did you see the politics? It made me angry.
DAD: Me, too. When it was over, I had sex.
UNCLE: I'm having sex right now.
DAD: We all are.
MOM: Let's talk about which kid I like the best.

The guy is 24 and very funny. This makes me happy and jealous. He also posts excerpts from his new book on, if you want to be made happy and jealous too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fun on the run November 20, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Perfect little book if you are in a hurry and enjoy laughing out loud. Drinking chocolate milk while reading guarantees a mess.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny in unexpected ways.... April 9, 2007
Just bought and read this book last night after reading the NYT piece comparing and contrasting the book with Christopher Buckley's new one. The book is a quick read (but NO reason to give it 2 stars for that....) and is surprisingly funny in an oblique and angular way. The short pieces will often end with dry, funny non-sequiters and the style throughout is incredibly lean, almost poetic. The pieces end abruptly leaving the reader to imagine the rest (Rich stops the piece when SNL should've). Most of the bits are based on clear identifiable comic premises that are inventive and funny (I won't spoil them...). I was impressed...thought it was funny and worth the dough...and will probably run out and buy the next thing he writes, too...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wittier than his dad! February 18, 2008
By Stacy
I love reading Frank Rich in the NYT. When I saw his son has a book out, it piqued my interest - and I have now given copies as gifts to so many of my friends! It's perfect for both someone close or that someone you might not know so well - laughter is universal and Simon Rich gives everyone a little slice of life to enjoy with this one. My personal favorite is the museum patron, and I will gift my favorite art history professor with it shortly. Hope he does a follow up soon!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious!
Simon Rich is a master at his craft. This collection is priceless! This is the kind of book you will read in one sitting and be disappointed when you are done.
Published 7 days ago by Lydia
5.0 out of 5 stars Funniest ever
Funniest book I have ever read. Short vignettes and comic situations that made me laugh out loud.
Published 12 days ago by Mark DePaolis
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid, crafty humor
Very creative lens on the world - or his world at least. The short essays leave you wanting more, as is often the case with sparse, good writing.
Published 1 month ago by Briley
4.0 out of 5 stars SO off the wall...and in a good way
This book is irreverent & LOL-funny. In the spirit of SNL, Rich throws EVERYTHING at the wall, and just like the sketches in the first half-hour of the show, about 85% of it... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jeannejr
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Loved the short humorous essays if Simon Rick
Published 2 months ago by Jeomoan Kurian
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth your time
Super short and not very entertaining.
Published 2 months ago by A reviewer
5.0 out of 5 stars funny in all the right ways
This is a book you can read all or just open to a random page to enjoy a quick laugh.
Published 4 months ago by jubal
2.0 out of 5 stars A lot of hype, a little bit of book ...
A lot of hype, a little bit of book. Much of it I didn't even understand. Okay, I'm late 50's in age, so maybe that's why; I had a chuckle or two, but mostly shook my head in... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Chile Chica
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
It's odd quirky humour.
Published 6 months ago by daniel dunsford
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Fair -- I didn't know you were allowed to be this funny
These are funny stories. Read them, and you will likely laugh. If you don't laugh, check with your religion -- it might be stifling your ability to laugh. Or your boss. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mickey D. Hadick
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